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American College of Physicians objects to overhaul of contraception mandate

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Washington (Oct. 6, 2017)–The American College of Physicians (ACP) today objected to the Trump Administration's overhaul of the nation's contraception mandate. The new rule rolls back the previous administration's direction that limited employers from seeking moral or religious exemptions from the requirement.

"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires nearly all employers to offer health insurance that covers access to a wide array of contraceptive methods," said Jack Ende, MD, MACP, ACP president. "The new rule will significantly broaden the type of companies and organizations that can request exemptions. This could lead to many American women who currently receive no-cost contraception having to pay out of pocket for their medication."

Issued as an interim final rule, the change will take effect immediately, bypassing the typical proposed rule and comment period required for the vast majority of new federal rules.

"We strongly object to this change being issued without a chance for stakeholders and members of the public to offer their thoughts and recommendations," continued Dr. Ende.

The new regulation will allow any employer to request an exemption based on moral or religious objections. This would widen the exemption to apply to any company from a small, religiously affiliated business to a larger, publicly traded company.

"Our concern is grounded on our long-standing policy that all Americans should have coverage for evidence-based medical services, including preventive services like contraception," Dr. Ende emphasized. "We are concerned that allowing employers to carve-out exemptions to the ACA's requirements that health insurance plans cover evidence-based preventive services without cost-sharing, including but not necessarily limited to contraception, will create substantial barriers to patients receiving appropriate medical care as recommended by their physicians."

The contraception mandate is one of eight women's preventive health benefits that the ACA requires health plans to provide without any cost to the patient. Other required benefits include breastfeeding equipment, HPV testing, and domestic violence screenings.

"ACP reaffirms its support for requiring insurance plans and products whether purchased by an individual, through a fully-insured group plan, or a self-insurance arrangement to cover evidence-based preventive services without cost sharing," Dr. Ende concluded. "We urge the administration, Congress, and other policymakers to work together to develop a remedy that ensures that women are not denied access to no-cost contraception, and more broadly, to ensure that all Americans will have access to coverage for evidence-based medical care as."

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Jackie Blaser
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