February 11, 2012
A rule is not a law, and the catholic bishops have learned to differentiate between the two. Government cannot impose its beliefs on free people.
by Louise Radnofsky
February 11, 2012
Catholic bishops said Friday night that they would not support the Obama administration’s proposed compromise on a controversial rule that requires most employers to fully cover contraception in their workers’ health plans.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had led opposition to the regulation, issued a statement saying that they didn’t believe their concerns were addressed by a new policy offered by President Barack Obama on Friday morning to allow religious employers who object to the use of birth control to turn over responsibility for covering it to insurance companies.
Under the new policy, religious employers that don’t want to offer contraception could exclude it from their policies. Insurance companies instead would be required to provide access to contraception for plan participants who wanted it, without explicitly charging either the religious employer or worker.
The shift is intended to ensure that women working at religious hospitals, schools and charities who want to use contraception can obtain it in the same way as women who work for secular employers. It also means the cost of providing the coverage for those women is likely to be spread across all policyholders by insurers.
The bishops had earlier expressed cautious optimism about the announcement, saying that it was “a first step in the right direction” but that they would have to study it.
In their later statement, they said they still had “serious moral concerns,” noting that the proposal didn’t contain provisions for religious employers who self-insure, meaning the employer takes on the underlying risk of covering employees’ health care.
The bishops also said that the current structure of the proposal meant that if an employee and insurer agreed to add contraception coverage to a health plan, it would still be financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the employer.
“These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection… is unacceptable and must be corrected,” the statement said.
The White House declined to comment.
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