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The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama-era health care mandate. It had required employers to pay for birth control through their insurance plans. And the Trump administration is leaving that mandate in place, but under its new rule, nearly any employer can opt out of paying for birth control if they have a religious or moral objection. That has already led to lawsuits. NPR's Alison Kodjak has more.
ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: The Affordable Care Act included birth control among the services that company health plans are required to cover. But religious groups objected and sued. Two of those suits, one brought by the company Hobby Lobby and one by the religious order the Little Sisters of the Poor, went to the Supreme Court. The justices ruled that the government can't force private companies or nonprofits to pay for birth control against their religious beliefs. Mark Rienzi represents the Little Sisters.
MARK RIENZI: It's downright silly to think that you need nuns to give out contraceptives. You don't.
KODJAK: In response to the court ruling, the Obama administration figured out a way for women to still get their birth control covered without the companies having to pay for it. Today's announcement allows religious groups and companies like the Little Sisters and Hobby Lobby to stop their insurers from offering contraception coverage altogether but, more importantly, expands the exemption to any company, even publicly traded ones. So women who work at a lot more companies could end up having to pay full price for contraceptives. Roger Severino leads the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
ROGER SEVERINO: In our country, we believe in tolerance. We believe in diversity. We should have space organizations to live out their religious identity and not face discrimination.
KODJAK: Depending on who you talk to, today's change may amount to a tiny tweak, or it could lead to women across the country losing access to birth control. Severino from the Health and Human Services Department says the change will affect less than 1 percent of all women.
SEVERINO: This provides an exemption. It's a limited one. It provides it only for those with religious or moral convictions that are implicated by the contraceptive mandate.
KODJAK: But Dana Singiser over at Planned Parenthood says the new rules are much more sweeping.
DANA SINGISER: With this rule in place, any employer for any religious or moral reasons would be allowed to refuse birth control for their employees.
KODJAK: Her group says millions of women could lose their insurance coverage for contraceptives. And the truth probably falls somewhere in between. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.