Obama Administration Orders Insurers to Cover Contraceptives

Monday, January 23, 2012
In a controversial decision regarding women’s health care, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has announced a final rule that requires employers that provide insurance coverage to their employees to cover contraceptives at no extra charge. The rule exempts certain religious non-profits that employ or serve only (or almost only) their own believers, and also adds a provision, not present in the August 2011 interim final rule, allowing those that do not qualify for the exemption an extra year, until August 1, 2013, to comply.
In an official statement, Secretary Sebelius noted that “Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, [and] is documented to significantly reduce health costs….” While family planning advocates were satisfied with the rule, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops vowed to fight it, because they contend it will force Catholic owned and operated institutions, such as hospitals, schools and universities, to violate Catholic doctrine, which condemns contraception. Fundamentalist and evangelical religious leaders likewise criticized the rule.
The rule arises from the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which requires insurers to cover “preventive health services” without additional charge. The new rule defines this mandate to include coverage of the full range of contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as an expert panel of the National Academy of Science recommended. Conservatives had lobbied the White House with great energy, and in November 2011 New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan personally urged President Obama to scrap the rule or grant a much broader exemption.
-Matt Bewig
Obama Reaffirms Insurers Must Cover Contraception (by Robert Pear, New York Times)

Health Secretary and FDA Clash over Morning-After Pill for Minors (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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