Government Proposes Compromise for Companies that Object to Contraceptive Coverage
(HealthDay News) – Responding to a Supreme Court ruling handed down late in June, the Obama administration on Friday proposed a compromise path that it said would allow women to obtain contraceptives through their health plan, while respecting the views of companies that objected to the provision on religious grounds.
For both nonprofits and "closely held" businesses with religious objections to contraceptive coverage, the government is asking that the companies inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in writing of their objections. In the case of nonprofits such as religious colleges, the U.S. federal government "will then notify insurers and third-party administrators so that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage for contraceptive services, with no additional cost to the enrollee or the employer," HHS said.
The new proposal sidesteps the necessity of the nonprofit religious organization reaching out to the insurance company itself – something these organizations felt still made them complicit in the provision of contraceptive care. Instead, the federal government will take on that responsibility. The government is also extending exemption to contraceptive coverage to "closely held" business entities. "Under the proposal, these companies would not have to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds," HHS said. In each case, women who are working for the nonprofit or "closely held" company would still be able to access coverage for contraceptives, but through a third party, not the organization or company itself.
"Women across the country deserve access to recommended preventive services that are important to their health, no matter where they work," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in an agency news release. "Today's announcement reinforces our commitment to providing women with access to coverage for contraception, while respecting religious considerations raised by nonprofit organizations and closely held for-profit companies."