The HHS mandate requiring all employer-based health plans to include free contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs went into effect Aug. 1. Numerous lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Catholic dioceses, hospitals, universities and charitable organizations challenging the mandate. These lawsuits will continue until they are resolved or the U.S. Supreme Court decides the Constitutionality of the mandate. In the meantime, employers will be required to offer plans with the offending provisions as new policies are issued effective Aug. 1, 2012. Religious employers that do not qualify for the narrow “religious employer” exemption (including hospitals, charities, universities, and schools) can take advantage of a “safe harbor” provision preventing executive enforcement of the mandate, extending their compliance date for one year.