KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

White House Restarts Birth Control Coverage Debate With Religious Groups

The rule, which was issued Friday, proposed a way for women who work at nonprofit religious institutions to get free birth control without requiring their employers to pay for it.

Politico: Obama Reopens Rift With Religious Groups
President Barack Obama wasn't looking for another fight with religious groups when the administration attempted Friday to clarify its birth control mandate. But he got one anyway (Budoff Brown, 2/4).

Kaiser Health News: Religious Nonprofits Won't Pay For Birth Control Under Proposal
After a year of lawsuits and public outcry, the Obama administration proposed Friday a way for women who work at nonprofit religious institutions to get free birth control without requiring their employers to pay for it. Instead, institutions that insure themselves, such as hospitals and universities, could use a third party to find a separate health policy that would pay for and provide the coverage (Gold, 2/1). Also from KHN: Six Questions And Answers About The Obama Administration's Birth Control Rule (2/1).

CQ HealthBeat: Retooled Obama Contraception Proposal Not Expected To Quell Controversy
A fresh Obama administration proposal issued Friday on birth control coverage under the health care law appeared unlikely to squelch a controversy that appears headed for the Supreme Court. In an attempt to appease religious colleges, hospitals and charities, the administration announced that those institutions’ insurers will take on the burden of providing no-cost birth control for workers through separate individual health insurance policies (Norman, 2/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Contraception Opt-Out Offer
The Obama administration on Friday offered an updated compromise to its requirement that employers cover contraception in workers' insurance plans, a step aimed at settling a yearlong contretemps over a mandate in the health care overhaul. The proposal is aimed at addressing the argument of Catholic bishops, along with religiously affiliated universities, hospitals and charities, that requiring employers to provide contraception violates their religious freedom (Radnofsky, 2/2).

Reuters: Obama Offers Compromise On Birth Control Health Coverage
The Obama administration on Friday sought to settle a dispute with religious leaders over whether employees at faith-affiliated universities, hospitals and other institutions should have access to health insurance coverage for contraceptives. The new set of proposals would instead guarantee that employees at religious nonprofits would get access to birth control coverage without out-of-pocket costs through separate plans with insurers picking up the tab (Morgan, 2/1).

The Fiscal Times: Birth Control Mandate Revised By Default, Not Design
One year after the Obama administration touched off a fight with the Catholic Church and a wide range of religious organizations over the freedom of religious expression, contraception, and intervention in free-market choice, Health and Human Services retreated -- a little. HHS revised its contraception mandate to restrict religious institutions, this time including affiliated non-profit organizations such as schools, hospitals, and charities. But those changes do not solve the core complaint over government defining religious expression, which the Obama administration had no intention of resolving (Morrissey, 2/1).

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