The Contraception Compromise

by Patrick Appel

The president's announcement:

Brian Beutler explains the compromise: 

The administration argues further that because contraceptive services prevent the costs of unintended pregnancies, the rule comes with no financial costs to either the insurer or religious employer. A similar rule resulted in no premium increases in the Federal Employee Health Benefits plan, officials noted, and the White House argues this moots the charge that religious money will be indirectly footing the bill for birth control and other contraception.

Sarah Kliff isn't completely buying this:

The catch here is that there’s a difference between “revenue neutral” and “free.” By one report’s measure, it costs about $21.40 to add birth control, IUDs and other contraceptives to an insurance plan. Those costs may be offset by a reduction in pregnancies. But unless drug manufacturers decide to start handing out free contraceptives, the money to buy them will have to come from somewhere.

Yuval Levin is unsatisfied:

The only difference is that the access to those contraceptive and abortifacient drugs would not technically be listed as one of the benefits the employer was paying for directly but would be listed as a benefit the insurer was paying for (with the money the employer paid for the broader insurance policy, of course). But employers who offer insurance don’t pay for individual benefits and products when they are provided anyway, they pay for the policy that gives their workers access to those benefits and products when they want them.

Jonathan Cohn hopes for the best:

If this system works — a big if, obviously — it would accomplish what's seemed so elusive in the last few days: Pursuing the public interest in a way that respects religious faith. Note that Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Hospital Association have issued statements supporting this arrangement. In fact, Sister Carol Keehan, president of CHA, said she was "very pleased" by the result. The Conference of Catholic Bishops may not agree. But, as I've said before, the Bishops aren't the only voice of Catholic Americans. 

Jamelle Bouie thinks Obama scored a "political win":

The opponents of the rule have begun to overreach at the same time that the administration offered to accomodate their objections. Not only does this make them look unreasonable—to an already unsupportive public—but it undermines their case, which is that this is an attack on religious liberty. If the issue is religious practice, then they should be willing to accept an agreement that preserves their freedom, while providing for women’s health.

Amanda Marcotte is on the same page:

Obama needs young female voters to turn out at the polls in November, and hijacking two weeks of the news cycle to send the message that he's going to get you your birth control for free is a big win for him in that department. I expect to see some ads in the fall showing Romney saying hostile things about contraception and health care reform, with the message that free birth control is going away if he's elected. It's all so perfect that I'm inclined to think this was Obama's plan all along.