U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision Released.
On June 30, 2014, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court held that the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) with respect to closely held corporations. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a closely held corporation, challenged the contraceptive mandate on the grounds that 4 of the 20 contraceptive methods for which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated coverage violated their religious beliefs. HHS had previously implemented an exception to the contraceptive mandate for religious nonprofit corporations, and the Supreme Court found it persuasive that the religious beliefs of the owners of Hobby Lobby and other closely held companies could be equally protected by a similar exception. We expect updated regulations to be forthcoming from HHS, the Department of Labor, and the Treasury Department in order to incorporate an exception for closely held corporations whose owners object to one or more of the ACA-required contraceptive methods on religious grounds.