Obama Administration Releases Contraceptive Rules for Religious Organizations
Obama Administration recently released a proposed set of rules outlining how religious non-profit organizations—that object to providing contraception for religious reasons—can comply with the Affordable Care Act's mandate to provide their employees cost-free contraceptive coverage.
“Insurance companies, not churches or other religious organizations will cover for contraceptive service; no non-profit, religious institution will be forced to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Deputy Director of Policy and Regulation at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said during a teleconference call. However, she added, “women that work for or go to school at these institutions will have free contraception coverage, and will no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go to rent or groceries.”
The proposal called for these organizations—including non-profit charities, hospitals, and institutions of higher education—to “self-certify as non-profit religious organizations with religious objections in providing contraception coverage.” Under this proposal, houses of worship would not be excluded from this exemption.
Female employees or students at these institutions would receive coverage from outside insurance policies that are separate from the employer’s or school’s health plan at no cost to them, and would be informed of their coverage.
Insurers working with third-party administrators at self-funded institutions would receive adjustments to the fees that insurers will have to pay in order to participate in the new health insurance marketplaces. Furthermore, the administration noted that the costs would be paid for by user fees from private providers entering into a federally-facilitated exchange—not by the federal government or by taxpayers.
Overall, “The administration is committed to working with all employees to give them the flexibility and resources they need to implement the health care law in a way that both protects women’s health and also makes accommodations for religious beliefs.” LaSure said.
The administration stressed that above all this is a step toward keeping President Obama’s promise of providing free preventive care and contraception for all women. The administration also reiterated that this is just a proposal, and is encouraging an open dialogue about the rules.
Amber Pace is a Policy and Research Intern with Campus Progress.