Supreme Court health insurance decision denounced by New Yorkers

New York lawmakers and women’s rights groups denounced Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on birth control coverage as a way for bosses to dictate what types of services their workers can access under their employer-based health care plan.

The ruling exempted some for-profit companies from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control insurance mandate under a 1993 law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she would urge Congress to change the law to “make it clear that businesses are not people and do not have the same rights people have.”

“This is not only a slippery slope, it is simply wrong to allow bosses to use their personal beliefs to limit what health care services an employee has access to,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the author of the 1993 law, called the Supreme Court ruling “unprecedented” and “dead-wrong” for expanding the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to cover closely held corporations, like Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts retailer that sued over the birth control mandate.

Rep. Michael Grimm — the lone Republican in the New York City delegation, representing Staten Island and Brooklyn — used the opportunity to criticze the Affordable Care Act, noting people who had their plans dropped for insufficient coverage.

“The court’s decision today simply reaffirms that Obamacare’s mandates are riddled with unconstitutional violations of our basic freedoms and liberties,” Grimm said in a statement.In New York City, one business group believed there would be a minimal effect on what businesses offer under their health insurance plans.

“This is not a serious issue in New York City, where employers are competing for talent and are prepared to provide health insurance on nonsectarian terms,” said Kimberly Spell, executive vice president at the Partnership for NYC.

Mark Jaffe, president of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, however, said companies will be uncertain about another change to the Affordable Care Act.

In New York state, “we were certain that this was a necessary basic right for insurance coverage and now the Supreme Court is saying ‘Not so fast, we’re carving exemptions,'” said Jaffe, who noted the New York arm of the Chamber of Commerce had no position on the case. “Any time you create an exception it creates some sense of uncertainty — what’s next?”

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