Apr 28, 2017 / 12:10 pm
A White House advisor rejected recent concerns that the Trump administration supports the controversial HHS mandate, saying it is simply a matter of timing in finding a “litigation-proof” alternative.
“The administration is not stepping back. It’s doing precisely what it should be doing here… because of the way people are attacking Trump executive orders, it’s very important that this thing gets done right and be as litigation-proof as possible, knowing full well they’re going to get sued anyway,” said White House advisor Leonard Leo, according to Axios.
His comments came amid concerns by religious groups after the Washington Post on Tuesday reported that the Justice Department had asked a federal appeals court for 60 extra days to negotiate an agreement with East Texas Baptist University and several other plaintiffs challenging the controversial HHS mandate. The Supreme Court last year had instructed the Obama administration to negotiate with the plaintiffs as the next step in the litigation process.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised Catholics relief from the HHS mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some early abortion drugs. In a letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference last October, he pointed to his opponent Hillary Clinton’s support for the mandate, and said “that is a hostility to religious liberty you will never see in a Trump Administration.”
After Trump’s election, the plaintiffs challenging the mandate widely expected that the new administration would drop the government’s appeal of the lawsuits, which federal circuit courts may re-examine in the coming months.
Instead of dropping the cases, however, the administration had indicated earlier this week that it intends to take the next step in the litigation process.
According to Axios, “The Trump administration is considering a range of options, from providing blanket exemptions to allowing schemes that would let insurance companies deal directly with employees.”
The HHS mandate was formed under the Affordable Care Act, which required preventive coverage in employer health plans. Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services interpreted this to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and drugs that can cause abortions. …
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