Senator Lankford Applauds Draft HHS Mandate Exemption for Nonprofits

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today made the following statement in support of a Trump administration draft rule change regarding the Affordable Care Act Health and Human Services mandate, which would grant religious freedom exemptions for employers.  

“Religious charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor and faith-based universities like Oklahoma Wesleyan, Oklahoma Baptist, Southern Nazarene, and Mid-America Christian, should not be forced to provide health insurance that violates their deeply held beliefs. The Trump administration’s review of the Obamacare HHS contraception mandate is positive news for First Amendment protections in America. Our government must not discount religious beliefs when there are reasonable accommodations and widespread access to health care. The Obama Administration exempted many religious groups, and rightfully no one challenged that exemption; it’s time to wrap up this six-year fight in the courts and allow all nonprofits to have their right to religious freedom.”

On January 11, Senator Lankford submitted a bipartisan amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the religious nonprofits and charities challenging Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, including the Little Sisters of the Poor. The amicus brief argued that religious freedom is a fundamental guarantee of the United States Constitution and, more recently, of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), noting that “Despite RFRA’s command that the religious beliefs of all individuals and organizations be accorded the same deference, HHS has given the religious liberties of religious non-profits second-tier status.” The Court will determine if Obamacare’s employer mandate for non-profit entities to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and contraception is constitutional. In 2014, the Supreme Court held that this mandate violated RFRA as applied to a for-profit corporation. Four universities from Oklahoma are involved in this case – Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University.