Topics: Obamacare

Supreme Court to review Obamacare contraception mandate

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Supreme Court,Health Care,Abortion,PennAve

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to a provision of the Affordable Care Act forcing companies to provide their workers with insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The nation’s highest court will decide whether employers can opt out of the birth control requirement if they feel it violates their religious beliefs.

The case will be taken up in March, and a decision could come in June.

The Supreme Court announcement represents the latest major challenge to President Obama's signature legislative achievement, which was upheld by the justices ahead of the 2012 election.

"We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women's health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in response to the announcement.

"The president believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women," Obama's top spokesman added.

The Obama administration previously granted exemptions from the contraception mandate to churches and religious non-profits, but privately owned companies, such as Hobby Lobby, argued they were being forced to comply with a law that violated their beliefs.

“As the federal government embarks on an unprecedented foray into health care replete with multiple overlapping mandates, few issues are more important than the extent to which the government must recognize and accommodate the religious exercise of those it regulates," Hobby Lobby's attorneys wrote to the Supreme Court.

Dozens of companies sued the administration for being forced to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after bill and other methods of contraception.

If companies refuse to provide coverage for such items, they can be fined more than $1 million a day.

For their part, Republicans applauded the review by the nation's highest court.

"Faith-based employers, including Catholic charities, schools, universities, and hospitals, should not be forced to provide services that contradict their faith," Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "The administration's mandate is an attack on religious freedom, and I'm hopeful it will be reversed by the Court."

The legal challenge to the birth control provision also comes as the administration works to fix the problem-ridden rollout of healthcare.gov and ease growing anxieties about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

This story was first published at 12:35 p.m. and has been updated.

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