WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) — Employers and insurers that object to covering contraceptives based on their religious or moral beliefs can now be exempt from the birth control mandate created during the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday.
HHS based the change on new guidance Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department issued Friday, CBS News’ Paula Reid reports. The religious exemption is a part of the executive order President Trump previously issued on religious freedom.
The shift was prompted by 50 lawsuits filed by groups challenging the Obamacare coverage requirement, according to senior HHS officials.
The exemption includes non-profit groups. For-profit groups that are not publicly traded will also be able to be exempt for religious reasons.
“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our healthcare system,” Caitlin Oakley, HHS press secretary, said in a statement. “Today’s actions affirm the Trump administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.”
The change came as expected, despite former HHS Secretary Tom Price resigning last week amid criticism of using taxpayer dollars to fly on private charters and military planes.