The Obama administration isn’t backing off its position that employers must include free contraceptive coverage in workers’ insurance plans as part of the nation's health care reforms, though it did give chuches some wiggle room Friday.
Under pressure from religious groups, the administration issued final rules on the birth control mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that included a compromise allowing faith-based nonprofits and corporations to offer contraceptives through special third-party policies, without having to manage or pay for the services directly.
The mandate requires most other employers to cover a range of birth-control methods in their health plans without charging a co-pay or a deductible.
Under the final rules, religious nonprofits may notify their carrier that they object to birth control coverage. The carrier then notifies affected employees separately that it will provide coverage at no cost.
“Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to respect the concerns of houses of worship and other nonprofit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, while helping to ensure that women get the care they need, regardless of where they work.”
The final rule offers a simpler definition of “religious employer” for purposes of the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement in response to concerns raised by some religious organizations.