On Monday, May 16, 2016, the Supreme Court made a unanimous decision to not rule in the challenge brought by religiously affiliated nonprofit groups to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate, but rather sent the case back to the lower courts.  

Background

The ACA contraception regulations provided religious nonprofits the ability to opt out by certifying that they are religiously opposed to contraception and notifying either the insurance carrier or the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The responsibility to provide contraception, at that point, falls onto the insurance company itself for those groups. However, some religious nonprofits argued that the accommodation itself imposed a religious burden that violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). 

Conclusion

So what does that mean for religious nonprofits? The decision will go back to the district courts to come up with a ruling. Once those decisions are made, it is possible that the requirement for a religious nonprofit who is opposed to contraception coverage will be based on what district court jurisdiction they reside in. Currently, eight out of nine district courts have already indicated that the requirement does not impose a substantial religious burden on the religious nonprofits and they must comply with the requirement. It is likely that, once there is a full bench on the Supreme Court, this case will be brought before them to review again.