Feb 6, 2014 • 20M

The Debate Over ACA-Mandated Contraceptive Coverage: A Conversation with Adam Sonfield (February 11th)

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David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: Implementation of the Affordable Care Act Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA Healthcare research Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues Public health issues including the social determinants of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
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In late January in a case involving a Catholic charity, the US Supreme Court issuesd a ruling temporarily exempting religious-affiliated non-profits from providing ACA-required contraceptive coverage.  (The ACA coverage requirement was based on an IOM recommendation that found birth control is "medically necessary."  The requirement took effect January 1st).  While churches and houses of worship are exempt, owned or controlled religious organizations can opt out of the contraceptive coverage requirement by completing and signing a form explaining their objection.  However, opponents say by opting out - that then allows the employee to obtain contraceptive coverage through a separate insurance policy - they are complicit in immoral conduct, i.e., they too should be exempted outright.  In addition, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases that involve for-profit companies similarly objecting to the requirement.  

During this 20 minute conversation Mr. Sonfield discusses the specifics of the ACA contraception coverage requirement and why it was included as an "essential health benefit, exemptions to it including how religiously affiliated non-profits can avoid providing coverage and moreover, in light of the recent legal challenges to the contraception mandate, what the research shows regarding the benefits of women's contraception.              

Adam Sonfield joined the Guttmacher Institute in Washington DC in 1997.  (Guttmacher is a non-partisan reproductive health and rights research and policy shop.  Its goal is to "ensure the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health for all people worldwide.")  Adam currently serves as a Senior Public Policy Associate.  He is the managing editor and a regular contributor to the Institute’s public policy journal, the Guttmacher Policy Review.  Mr. Sonfield’s portfolio includes research and policy analysis on public and private financing of reproductive health care in the United States, the rights and responsibilities of health care providers and patients, and men’s sexual and reproductive health. He also writes a quarterly Washington Watch column for Contraceptive Technology Update.  Mr. Sonfield earned an A.B. with honors in social studies from Harvard and a Master of Public Policy, focusing in health policy, at Georgetown University.

The Guttmacher Institute's Supreme Court amicus brief can be found at: http://www.guttmacher.org/media/inthenews/2014/01/31/index.html,