School of the Ozarks v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

AU's Role: 
AU's Involvement Began: 
August 2015
Status: 

As part of the Affordable Care Act's implementing regulations, group health plans are required to include coverage for various forms of preventative care, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Houses of worship are exempt from these requirements, and the Department of Health and Human Services later created a broader accommodation for certain nonprofit organizations. In particular, religious nonprofit organizations may opt out of providing contraceptive coverage by certifying their religious objection; upon receiving this certification, the organization's insurance company--or in the case of self-insured plans, its third-party administrator--steps in to provide the coverage. 

Despite the accommodation, School of the Ozarks, a religious college located in Lookout, Missouri, challenged the accommodation in federal court.  The trial court upheld the accommodation, finding that the plaintiff did not suffer a substantial burden to its religious exercise. 

The School of the Ozarks appealed the trial court's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  In August 2015, we filed an amicus brief in support of the contraception regulations. The Eighth Circuit has decided to hold the case until the United States Supreme Court rules in Zubik v. Burwell