Court Grants Preliminary Injunction Against Religious and Moral Exemptions Rules

January 02, 2018

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the government from enforcing two new interim Final rules, referred to as the Moral Exemption Rule (82 FR 47792) and the Religious Exemption Rule (82 FR 47838), modifying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

On October 13, 2017, the Trump Administration expanded the scope of the ACA’s contraception coverage exemption through the use of two interim Final rules. Previously, exemption on religious grounds was only available to houses of worship, while religiously affiliated nonprofits (and eventually, closely-held for-profits) were able to use an accommodation allowing them to opt out of providing and paying for contraception coverage as generally required by the ACA. The new rules greatly expand the exemptions, nullifying the need for an accommodation. The new regulations allow nonprofits, closely-held for-profits, and private colleges to cease offering contraception coverage to employees and students based on moral objections. Under the interim Final rules, all companies, including publicly traded companies, may cease offering contraception to employees and students on religious grounds.