National News

HHS Mandate in Limbo Until New Administration Takes Over

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers that challenged the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act have been cautiously breathing a sigh of relief since the presidential election.

“Everyone is still protected by the Supreme Court’s order,” but they know with a new administration it could change in minutes,” said Mark Rienzi, lead attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the Little Sisters of the Poor in the case before the court earlier this year.

And even though nothing has been announced yet, Rienzi seems confident Donald Trump’s campaign promises to repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act would very likely put the contraceptive issue off the table.

“We feel optimistic,” he told Catholic News Service, stressing that a major part of Trump’s victory stemmed from religious voters convinced he would best represent them with pro-life policies and Supreme Court nominee picks.

The court heard oral arguments in the case March 23. In a unanimous decision May 16, the justices sent the matter back to the lower courts for the parties to work out a compromise. The court also has ordered the government not to impose on the plaintiffs hefty fines it has set up for noncompliance with the mandate.

“The previous administration went aggressively too far in bullying religious groups,” he added, saying people supported Trump over Hillary Clinton specifically for his “promises to do things for religious liberty.”