Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today voted to advance the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, which was drafted in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Despite being supported by a majority of senators, the bill was blocked by a vote of 56-43. It needed 60 votes to advance.
The bill would restore the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement and protect coverage of other health services from corporations that, on the basis of their owners’ religious beliefs, would deny legally-required health benefits to their employees.
The bill would also protect employees’ legal rights to health care services guaranteed under federal law from being infringed by an employer. It would preserve the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement for houses of worship and the accommodation developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for religious nonprofits.
The bill states that federal laws, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, do not permit employers to deny legally-required coverage for health care services.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that a minority of senators blocked this important legislation,” Feinstein said. “Congressional action is necessary to address the effects of the court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and protect women’s access to health care.”
Feinstein continued: “Health care decisions are deeply personal and women should be able to make them without their employer denying important benefits. Absent a legislative response, this case opens the door to employers and corporations claiming the right to deny other health care services and rights—a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes the rights all Americans. Going forward, I will work to right the court’s egregious wrong.”