President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order aimed at protecting access to reproductive health care services. This order is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and directs federal agencies to take steps to protect abortion and reproductive health services.
The executive order appears to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception; protect patient privacy; promote safety and security for patients, providers and clinics; and coordinate federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to related health care.
The order directs the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take certain actions to ensure access to reproductive health care services. These actions include:
- Protecting and expanding access to abortion care, including access to medication
- Ensuring all patients—including pregnant women and those experiencing pregnancy loss—have access to full rights and protections for emergency medical care
- Expanding access to reproductive health services, including emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception
- Increasing outreach and public education concerning access to reproductive health care services
- Organizing volunteer lawyers to provide legal representation to patients, providers and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services, including individuals traveling out of state to seek medical care
The executive order also requires the HHS to submit a report Biden within 30 days on its efforts to protect access to contraception and emergency medical care.
The HHS has already issued guidance addressing how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information—including information related to reproductive care—and a how-to guide for individuals to protect their personal data on mobile apps.
Biden directed HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council to establish a task force on reproduction health care access to coordinate federal interagency policymaking and program development. In connection with the order, the Biden administration announced that it will provide approximately $3 million in funding to train health care providers and clinics on handling family planning needs.
What This Means
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, there are still many unresolved legal questions regarding employers providing abortion-related benefits. This is a rapidly developing issue, and it’s unclear what the legal and regulatory landscape will look like over the next weeks and months. As such, employers should continue to monitor the situation closely. Employers concerned about how the recent executive order and court ruling impact their organization are encouraged to speak with legal counsel.
We will keep you apprised of any notable updates on this issue. Contact MST Insurance Solutions, Inc. for more health care resources.
For a copy of this notice click here: Biden Signs Executive Order on Access to Reproductive Health Care Services