In Wake of ‘Hobby Lobby,’ Wisconsin to Stop Enforcing State Contraceptive Benefit Rule


Read more of our coverage on the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases here.

Wisconsin will no longer enforce the state’s contraception benefit rule for employers with religious objections, because of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

On Monday, a spokesperson from Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration told the conservative website Media Trackers that Wisconsin will no longer require employers to follow the state law mandating coverage. Current state law in Wisconsin mandates that companies with insurance plans covering certain services, like outpatient care, preventive treatment, and prescription drugs, must also cover contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration and prescribed by a health-care provider.

In its ruling last month, the Supreme Court used the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to argue that the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act violates the religious rights of certain companies.

J.P. Wieske, a representative with the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, alluded to the Supreme Court ruling in justifying Wisconsin’s decision, saying that the Hobby Lobby decision “supersedes state statute.”

Reproductive rights advocates and pro-choice politicians in the state argue that Wisconsin Republicans are misunderstanding and incorrectly applying the ruling. In a letter to the Commission of Insurance, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national organization that represents the “views of American freethinkers,” said that “gutting mandatory contraceptive coverage is not required by the Hobby Lobby decision, as any staunch states’ rights defender must know.”

State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) agrees, telling local reporters that “Hobby Lobby concerned the interpretation of federal law. It does not impact our state laws. … [Walker] had no authority to unilaterally decide that this administration is not going to enforce a law passed democratically through the Legislature.”

Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled state legislature has in the past tried to repeal the state’s law requiring contraceptive coverage, known as the Contraceptive Equity law. For example, in 2011, shortly after taking office, Walker added a provision to his budget proposal that would have repealed the Contraceptive Equity law, which was passed in 2009; the provision was eventually stripped from the budget. In 2013, the legislature proposed AB 215, which would have created an exemption for religious organizations.

Andrew L. Seidel, an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the author of the letter, says that the “failure to enforce this mandate has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with imposing conservative religious beliefs on women.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Nina Liss-Schultz on twitter: @NinaLisss

  • fiona64

    Walker’s just proving once again how ignorant he is. Nothing in Hobby Lobby says that any old employer can just stop having coverage parity.

    • BelligerentBruncher

      Pay for my glasses.

      • dudebro

        Opticians overcharge. You can get a nice pair online for under 50$. One of the local opticians in my town charges 800$ for frames and lenses. What a racket.

        • BelligerentBruncher

          Glasses are not “one size fits all.”

          You sound like the idiots that are telling women to buy their contraception at Wlamart for $9/month.

          Oh, wait, I’m one of those idiots. Sorry, not sorry. Fuck.

          • dudebro

            No hun its genuine overcharging. The optician will charge 500$ for a pair of frames that cost 100$ on amazon.

          • Shan

            Contraception is covered on the vast majority of healthcare plans but dental and vision aren’t. You don’t seem to be able to figure out WHY despite the fact that it’s been explained over and over again.

            Hint: all that started before the ACA.

          • dudebro

            If vision was covered we could alllllll troll with ease. High priced glasses keep the wrong class of people from trolling. Its a form of natural selection.

          • Shan

            If ALL of it was covered under national healthcare, everybody would just have to STFU, go home, mind their own business and leave the rest of the country to get on with coping with their own healthcare decisions.

          • Arekushieru

            Health Care = returning one to their state of former health. Now, which one of these turns eyes back to their former state of health: Glasses (that only serve to correct vision while you’re WEARING them, I might add) OR cataract surgery? Hint: it isn’t the former. Oops.

            Also, way to be a fucking classist misogynist douchebag. . There isn’t a Walmart at every corner. SOME times 9 dollars a month means the difference between having food on the table for everyone to eat and starvation. How much MORE devastating do you think a many times more expensive unplanned pregnancy would be? OOPS.

            Also, way to dismiss the man’s role in ensuring contraception is used. Just points out that much MORE how you really want women to be the only ones punished for daring to have consensual sex for purposes other than procreation. CLASSIC misogyny. Now don’t pout that we have outed you and your ilk once again, little boy.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Oh so contraception shouldn’t be covered because it is not healthcare. according to your definition. Got it.

          • Arekushieru

            Nope, it returns a woman to their former state of health. Or do you not know what ovulation is? Once the ovum is sloughed off, a woman is returned to her former state of health. Double standards much? After all, this isn’t a conversation that concerns you since you don’t have ovaries. Also see you STILL avoid the difficult questions because you’re such a fucking coward. TBSFS.

          • Arekushieru

            To Clinton2016 whose comment is in moderation, what makes you think I’m for the death penalty (live in Canada, btw, and I’m just fine with the status quo, here)? Also, I am anti-Death penalty BECAUSE I am Pro-Choice. Please don’t misgender me, again. Don’t other gay people, ever again. Finally, again, I live in Canada, as I said, I’m perfectly fine with free abortions. Thanks.

      • Shan

        Why?

        • BelligerentBruncher

          I’m entitled to vision healthcare.

          • Shan

            Why?

          • dudebro

            Can’t troll if he can’t see!

          • lady_black

            According to what law?

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Oh, so you agree that healthcare is NOT a right.

          • lady_black

            Is that what I said, stupid? If you needed cataract surgery, or a prosthetic eye, that would be covered by health insurance. Correcting your visual acuity isn’t “healthcare.” Pay a few bucks for vision coverage, or buy your own glasses.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Buy your own contraception.

          • lady_black

            Must you now start posting your nonsense twice? Isn’t once bad enough?

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Buy your own contraception.

          • lady_black

            Contraceptives are health care.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            So is vision

          • fiona64

            Stop being stupid for five minutes. I dare you.

      • fiona64

        Way to miss the point … as usual. Viagra is covered but female contraception isn’t. You are not being denied vision coverage due to your gender.

        • BelligerentBruncher

          Viagra is covered less often than contraception. Try again

          • fiona64

            Um, no.

            In any event, as you are *fully aware,* glasses are not preventive medicine. They are *treatment.* And spare me the “they’ll keep me from going blind” crap, because that’s not how corrective lenses work.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Um, yes.

            “As for Viagra, independent studies of coverage are sparse, but the ones
            that exist don’t show that the drug is covered more than birth control.”

            http://www.newsweek.com/factcheckorg-mccains-viagra-moment-92941

          • fiona64

            independent studies of coverage are sparse

            In other words, they don’t know.

            The reason for coverage parity laws is that things like Viagra were covered for men and things like hormonal contraception for women were NOT.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            I know it was kind of a long sentence, but try reading all the way to the end.

            “….but the ones that exist don’t show that the drug is covered more than birth control.”

            Derpity derp

          • Arekushieru

            :LOVE how you avoided answering the most PERTINENT part of Fiona’s comment. Oopsies?

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Bro, this conversation doesn’t concern you.

          • Arekushieru

            It’s a public forum, and as I’ve fucking told you before, 5×5, I am not a guy. Oops. But, by YOUR logic you should be staying out of this conversation, DOUBLY so since you’ve already said goodbye umpteen times by now, I’m sure. AW.

      • lady_black

        Glasses are never covered by health insurance. A separate rider for vision coverage must be purchased to get coverage. This is sort of like saying “pay for my dentures.” It’s not going to happen under health insurance.

    • Tom Albert

      And on this one we can agree. The SCOTUS decision clearly does not cover this. This governor will get his head handed to him.

  • StealthGaytheist

    I have a sincere belief that I shouldn’t have to subsidize churches or wars. When can I expect my tax refund?

    • Dizcuzted

      Sorry, you don’t appear to be a closely held corporation…

      • StealthGaytheist

        I’ll incorporate if it means I won’t have to support churched or or wars any more.

  • John H

    Reproductive rights advocates and pro-choice politicians in the state
    argue that Wisconsin Republicans are misunderstanding and incorrectly
    applying the Hobby Lobby ruling.

    Sadly, I think they’re interpreting and applying the ruling in exactly the manner that the five Catholic men who delivered it intended.

  • RNfromNY

    Narrow ruling my rear end. Who didn’t see this coming (no pun intended!)

  • DesertSun59

    Remember, folks. Scott Walker is a fundamentalist Christian. Why are you surprised.

  • http://eneya.wordpress.com/ Eneya Vorodecky

    I am so happy I do not live in a country which does not get why it is a good idea to have healthy people and allow them to monitor and control their contraception nor one which loves to be hypocritical by “religious freedom” containing mainly Christianity.

  • Kris Weibel

    Walker, as with most GOPers, just hate women and will find a way to discriminate. It can be medically necessary for birth control but where does it say it is medically necessary for a man to get a hard-on?

  • Tom Albert

    Start a religion with that as the basis and you are good.