Update November 7, 2015

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Another round of judicial proceedings on US healthcare law

Sumel Sarker

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Another round of judicial proceedings on US healthcare law

07 November 2015, Nirapad News: The latest challenge to the US President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy comes as Republican presidential candidates lambast the healthcare law on the campaign trail, according to a report in the global media.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge against Obama’s healthcare law and its mandate for employers to provide employees with certain types of contraception.

The case groups together seven separate petition focusing on non-profit organisations, the report adds.

It marks the fourth time in five years that the court has agreed to hear challenges involving the Affordable Care Act , known as Obamacare. It is also the third time that it will address the issue of birth control, the report adds.

The Obamacare issue has become a rallying cry for conservatives who believe that the president is forcing federal law on states and distorting the private sector.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court decision to review Obamacare has also come amid renewed debate over whether religious individuals and groups should be allowed certain exemptions from federal law to accommodate their religious beliefs, the report adds.

The nine US justices last June ruled 5-4 that businesses with deeply religious owners could opt out of Obamacare’s contraception mandate if it contravened their faith. The court, however, did not specify then whether the federal government could provide birth control coverage to those businesses’ employees through other means, according to the report.

Since the ruling, the Obama administration, the report says, has been allowing employers with religious objections to register their opposition and then hand over responsibility of birth control coverage to insurance companies, essentially taking the employer out of the equation.

This compromise has angered some religious groups, particularly Catholic organisations, on the grounds that they are still complicit in the provision of their employees’ contraception.

With the latest challenges, the Supreme Court will seek to clarify last year’s ruling and decide whether the administration’s accommodation ‘constitutionally burdens the religious liberty of those who object’, the report, quoting Steven Engle, a partner with the Washington DC-based law firm, Dechert, says.

Since the June ruling, dozens of religious groups have challenged the Obama administration’s accommodation in different appeals courts.

The Supreme Court is expected to begin oral arguments next March and will hear challenges from seven religious groups. A decision is expected by the end of June.

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