Under a proposed Trump administration rule, health insurers would no longer cover contraceptive methods for group plans should the employer seek an exemption on moral or religious grounds.
Currently, the Affordable Care Act requires most employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception methods.
A May 23 draft interim final rule obtained by Vox expands the exemptions based on religious beliefs and moral convictions.
This means that just about any employer could seek an exemption of contraception coverage.
The rule does not change the current standard of Health and Human Services that requires contraception coverage where no such objection exists. It also would not affect other federal programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptives for women at risk of unintended pregnancy.
HHS is asking for comments to be received 60 days after publication in the federal register. Publication is expected after the Office of Management and Budget reviews the proposal.
Under the ACA, in 2012, all new private plans were required to cover, without cost-sharing, the full range of contraceptives and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.
Before the ACA, coverage for prescription contraceptives was generally widespread in the private and public sectors, but not universal, the Kaiser report said. Unless a state had a contraceptive coverage mandate, insurers and employers could choose whether or not to provide coverage for contraception.
However, in 2000, the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission found that employers that covered preventive prescription drugs and services, but did not cover prescription contraceptives were in violation of the Civil Rights Act.
More than half of women in the United States are insured through an employer-sponsored plan. Since the implementation of the ACA provision, fewer women are paying out-of-pocket for contraceptives, the Kaiser report said.