The White House has come up with a compromise plan on contraception coverage that will not force religious organizations like the Catholic Church to provide birth control. The solution? Insurance companies will have to pay for it.
Top White House health officials told reporters Friday morning that the plan will require any insurance company that offers heath plans to workers at Catholic or other religious organizations that don’t purchase contraception coverage as part of their overall plan will have to offer a separate policy to those workers at no cost to either the religious group or the employee.
The administration also plans to prohibit insurers from raising premiums for church-based groups that don’t offer the coverage to pay for contraception services used by their employees, which would, in essence, be a back door method of forcing them to violate their religious principles. “It delays and spaces out pregnancies, so at the end of the day, it is cost neutral,” said a senior administration official.
There are already 28 states that require employers that offer health insurance coverage to provide contraception coverage. Many of them have similar carve-outs to protect non-profit institutions run by groups with religious objections like the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a major campaign to stop the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all insurance plans that provide preventive services be given top ratings by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which includes contraception.
Opposition to the rule has been taken up by all the Republican candidates for president, who have blasted the Obama administration for opposing religious freedom. Top administration officials point out that 98 percent of women at some time in their lives use contraception, that it can cost as much as $1,200 a year, and failure to provide that coverage will penalize poor and low-paid working women who cannot afford that level of out-of-pocket expenses.