Business leaders in Minnesota said Friday they doubt that President Donald Trump's new opt-out provision would cause a wave of companies to drop birth control benefits.

Most employers in the state had already covered birth control before the Affordable Care Act required it and wouldn't want to take away a very common benefit in a competitive labor market, said Carolyn Pare of the Minnesota Health Action Group.

"If there are some businesses that have really strong religious convictions, I understand that," she said. "But we're in a day and age right now where we're almost in some places at full employment. And benefits are often used to attract and retain employees. So why would you skinny down benefits that are typically essential? It doesn't make business sense."

At the same time, business owners with religious or moral objections to the federal mandate on birth control coverage celebrated Trump's decision — even business owners who already got out of the mandate through court battles.

While eight Minnesota-based businesses gained court rulings that allowed them to opt out of the coverage requirement, they ended up with limited and customized health insurance options and high premiums, said Erick Kaardal, the Minneapolis attorney who represented seven of the businesses.

Smaller companies that he represented, such as Storms Welding & Manufacturing in Cologne and Annex Medical in Minnetonka, couldn't afford the prices and ended up dropping health coverage for their employees and providing them with stipends to buy their own coverage.

Gov. Mark Dayton called Trump's decision "unconscionable" and urged "all employers in our state to disavow this effort to strip Minnesotans of their health care."

However, the Minnesota Family Council commended the president for following through on this campaign promise.

"The government is supposed to be a great protector of religious freedoms, not a threat to them," said John Helmberger, the council's chief executive. "Americans should never have to choose between their faith and their work. This rule ensures that employers will not have to make this decision when it comes to their convictions about contraceptives and abortifacient drugs."

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744