A portion of the Affordable Care Act took effect on Aug. 1, mandating coverage of reproductive health services -- including contraception.
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -
Aug. 1 marks the first day businesses and insurers must cover women's contraceptives without copays or deductibles as required under the Affordable Care Act.
Along with the contraception, the mandate also covers mammograms, pap smears, domestic violence screenings and HIV screenings for an estimated 20 million women.
Just like when it was announced, the decision has supporters cheering the health coverage expansion -- but opponents, especially those associated with religious institutions, are denouncing the move as a violation of freedoms and beliefs.
Companies and insurers must offer the coverage at no cost when they renew their insurance policies. If not, they face fines of $100 a day per employee if they don't comply.
The Obama administration did let churches and other houses of worship opt out of this requirement, but not affiliated groups, like hospitals and universities, giving them an extra year to comply because of the moral objections they raised. So, a Catholic school has until Aug. 1, 2013 to comply with the requirement.
Last February, the White House offered another accommodation for those with religious objections. Religious employers at places like universities, hospitals and charities who object to the new plan would not have to offer, or foot the bill for, this coverage. Instead, their insurance companies would have to cover the cost of birth control, "with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception," the administration said in a statement.
Over half of Americans already live in 28 states that require insurance companies cover contraception, the White House has noted.
Meanwhile, the battle over the mandate is still playing out in court -- but a federal court recently rejected a joint effort from seven states challenging the new rules.
Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the rule. As the law took effect, Rep. Mike Kelly, of Pennsylvania, called the mandate an attack on America and compared it to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.