Religious liberty rules

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak is applauding the Trump administration’s plans to restore religious liberties and strengthen the First Amendment with new rules to limit the mandate that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control despite their religious beliefs.

“I commend President Trump for keeping his promise to Americans to protect our religious freedom,” Doak said. “The government should not force anyone to compromise their faith, and the new rules will allow businesses to focus on their goals and mission without fear of legal battles.”

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all insurers and group plans must offer coverage for contraceptive methods approved by the FDA for free, with limited exceptions for churches, non-profits and “closely held” for-profit businesses. But the new rule change expands the exemptions to allow any employer that registers a religious or moral objection to refuse to offer health care plans that include birth control coverage.

Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services arguing that the contraception mandate contained in the ACA, specifically in regards to emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices, violated its religious beliefs. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor.