House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said his panel would move quickly to advance legislation that would reverse an HHS decision requiring religious organizations to provide health coverage for contraceptives.
The news from Upton's committee came not long after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the requirement an “unambiguous attack on religious freedom” and vowed on the House floor that the lower chamber would work to overturn the requirement if the Obama administration did not do so.
HHS last August issued an interim final rule on preventive services that would require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women—including contraceptive services—without a copay, coinsurance or deductible. On Jan. 20, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement saying not-for-profit employers who do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their plans will have until Aug. 1, 2013, to comply. The final rule is pending.
Upton's committee has already taken steps on this issue. Last fall, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened a hearing about the preventive services interim final rule
to explore whether the mandates threaten conscience rights and access to services.
Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the committee on March 1. Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and full committee are expected to vote on legislation to reverse the mandate
“in the coming weeks.”