Here’s the gist of the new policy from the White House with respect to religious organizations and the ACA’s guarantee of contraception coverage:
Women will get a small separate insurance policy that covers contraception that is not paid for by the religious employer and does not cost the woman anything. Costs will be covered by fees insurers pay to participate in the new federal health exchanges being set up under Obamacare.
The new policy also expands the definition of “religious employer,” potentially allowing more institutions to get out of the requirement. The new policy eliminates the requirement that they have religious values in their purpose, employ people of the same religion and primarily serve people with the same religious values.
With respect to self-insured group health plans, the eligible
organization would notify the third party administrator, which in turn
would automatically work with a health insurance issuer to provide
separate, individual health insurance policies at no cost for
participants. The costs of both the health insurance issuer and third
party administrator would be offset by adjustments in
Federally-facilitated Exchange user fees that insurers pay.
So Catholic hospitals and schools can have even cleaner hands when it comes to insisting on a doctrine that 98 percent of its own parishioners reject. It seems fine to me – underlining the separateness of the contraception guarantee, while expanding the range of religious institutions covered. Maybe if they’d listened to Joe Biden the first time round, this flap would have never happened. But they also would not have reaped the huge political benefits among female voters of tangling with Catholic cardinals on questions of sexual freedom.
(Photo by Bryan Calabro/Wiki.)