Birth control advocates on Wednesday said Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is misguided in stopping enforcement of the state’s contraception coverage law for employers with religious objections following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month.
A spokesman for the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance said that the high court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, which said companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement of the Affordable Care Act, means the state can no longer enforce its law requiring insurers to cover birth control as part of their health plans.
But Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin pointed to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, saying the state law “is a separate legal requirement on insurance plans in the state that is not directly affected by the Hobby Lobby decision.”
“Gov. Walker’s latest effort to unilaterally end the enforcement of Wisconsin’s birth control law without legislative action shows just how far he is willing to go to restrict women’s access to essential health care,” Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said in a statement.
Madison’s Freedom From Religion Foundation also criticized the Walker administration’s interpretation of the Hobby Lobby ruling, saying the ruling has no bearing on state law.
But J.P. Wieske, spokesman for the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, said Wisconsin is “pre-empted” from enforcing the state law because the Affordable Care Act allows some employers exemptions from providing contraceptive coverage, if workers can get the coverage through a third party. The Hobby Lobby ruling expanded the types of employers exempt, he said.
“It’s a federal accommodation,” Wieske said. “We don’t have a say in it.”
According to a National Women’s Law Center memo, “Closely-held for-profit corporations doing business in Wisconsin that do not self-insure must abide by the state law, and continue to provide birth control coverage to the same extent they provide preventive care and prescription drugs. The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance must continue to enforce this provision.”