The first challenge to certain stipulations regarding religious freedom in the Affordable Care Act since President Obama’s re-election began today in the US Supreme Court and was not opposed by the administration.
Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Va., was founded in 1971 by Jerry Farwell. It is a private Christian university with 12,500 students enrolled on campus and 80,000 studying through online classes. The sum of its students would make it the largest evangelical Christian university in the world, this country’s seventh-largest four-year institution and the largest in the state of Virginia. The university now holds another distinction—that of being the first to challenge the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) since Obama was re-elected.
The university has refilled its lawsuit, saying it objects to the ACA requirement in the health care law that uses taxpayer dollars for contraception and abortion, a claim the Obama administration rejects, according to a CNN report on Monday.
The US Supreme Court has ordered a federal appeals court to review whether a key requirement in the law violates religious freedoms. In 2011 a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit US Court of Appeals unanimously found the university’s lawsuit should be blocked on jurisdictional grounds, and there was no indication at the time that the appeals court would revisit the case in view of the high court’s order.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA’s funding, called the “individual mandate,” requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a financial penalty. All other pending appeals were cast out. In June, however, the high court left room for continued legal challenges to some aspects of the law’s application, leaving the door open for Liberty University.
The university is refilling based on their contention that Americans should not be required to purchase health insurance or employers forced to provide it if there are legitimate moral and religious objections to some provisions.
Liberty’s is not the only lawsuit; there are several dozen pending around the nation that challenge the law’s application since it was declared constitutional in June by the Supreme Court.
The Justice Department said that while it continues to disagree with Liberty University’s challenge, it has no objection to litigating the issue on the merits before the Fourth Circuit.
Commentary: Affordable Care Act advances women’s access and rights to health care
The health care law makes preventive care more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans. This is especially important to women, who are more likely than men to go without necessary health care, including preventive care, because of cost. To help address these cost barriers and make sure all women have access to preventive health care, the health care law requires all new and non-grandfathered private insurance plans to cover a wide range of preventive services without co-payments or other cost-sharing requirements.
Low-income women are the beneficiaries of the ACA provisions requiring insurance companies to provide contraception. New provisions in the health care law that went into effect on Aug. 1 requires insurance companies to cover contraceptives in all new health plans at the start of their plan year with no co-pay! This means women can now make their choices based on what is best for them and not based on cost, according to the women’s law center.