Obama Aides Seek To Calm Storm Over Contraceptive Rule
Administration suggests there may be ways to meet religious groups' concerns but insists that the president is committed to the policy. Sen. Mitch McConnell suggests Congress may change the rule if the administration doesn't.
Los Angeles Times: White House Says It Will Work With Religious Groups On Birth Control Rule
Faced with continued blowback from a new rule on health insurance coverage for birth control, the White House on Tuesday emphasized that the details of the mandate were not yet settled. … But the comments were more a shift in emphasis than substance. (White House press secretary Jay) Carney said the president remained committed to the policy – which requires some religious institutions to provide their employees with health insurance that covers contraceptives (Hennessey, 2/7).
The New York Times: Obama Tries To Ease Ire On Contraception Rule
Mr. Obama's aides promised to explore ways to make it more palatable to religious-affiliated institutions, perhaps by allowing some employers to make side insurance plans available that are not directly paid for by the institutions. But White House officials insisted the president would not back down from his decision last month that employees at institutions affiliated with religious organizations receive access to contraceptives (Cooper and Seelye, 2/7).
Reuters: White House Defends Contraception Rules As Criticisms Mount
The Obama administration is willing to work with Catholic universities, hospitals and other church-affiliated employers to implement a new policy that requires health insurers to offer birth control coverage, a top adviser to the president's re-election campaign said on Tuesday. David Axelrod, a senior campaign adviser to President Barack Obama, said the administration had heard the Church's concerns and never intended to "abridge anyone's religious freedom" (Heavey, 2/7).
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Seeks Deal On Birth Control
One possibility, which was discussed in the internal debate before Mr. Obama's decision, is to model a compromise after a law in Hawaii. Hawaii law requires health-insurance plans to cover contraception in the same way they cover other prescription drugs. But it allows religious employers to enroll workers in a plan with a reduced premium, and allows employees who want contraception to pay for the coverage out of their own pockets directly to the insurer (Lee and Radnofsky, 2/8).
Politico: White House Tries To Quell Birth Control Storm
Polls show a new Obama administration rule that requires faith-based employers to offer workers free contraceptive coverage is popular, even among Catholics — but the actions of the president's top advisers Tuesday showed just how worried they are about a backlash (Budoff Brown and Feder, 2/8).
National Journal: White House Seeks To Play Both Sides Over Contraception Requirement
White House aides met with liberal groups on Tuesday to garner support and assure them that the rule will stand, while trying to appease religious groups by suggesting that a phase-in period provides time to find an agreeable way forward (2/8).
Bloomberg: Obama Weighed Religious Politics Before Contraceptive Decision
President Barack Obama ended months of internal White House debate by siding with a group of mostly female advisers who urged him not to limit a health-care law mandate to provide contraceptives, even at the risk of alienating Catholic voters in November, people familiar with the discussions said. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic and a two-term governor of Kansas, was joined by several female Obama advisers in urging against a broad exemption for religious organizations (Dorning and Talev, 2/8).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: White House Contraception Rule At Risk Of Angering Catholics In November
The Catholic Church has a large network of educational and health-care entities that serve the public at large, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led a protest (Fitzgerald, 2/8).
Politico: Senate GOP Ramps Up Drive Against Contraceptive Rule
Senate Republicans late Tuesday stepped up their assault on the White House's politically volatile contraceptive coverage mandate, vowing to find some way of striking it if the administration didn’t roll back the rules itself. Using unusually strong language in a floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the new policy "abhorrent" and said the administration had crossed a "dangerous line" (Kenen, 2/7).
Roll Call: Backlash Against Birth Control Mandate Might Aid President
The fierce opposition is galvanizing another base to the policy's defense, a bloc that could provide Obama with more votes and dollars for his re-election: women's rights groups and their backers. In recent days, organizations including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY's List have rallied around the administration to counter the campaign led by the bishops (Ali, 2/8).
The Baltimore Sun: O'Brien Says Archdiocese Of Baltimore Won't Offer Birth Control Coverage
Cardinal-designate Edwin F. O'Brien said in a strongly worded letter that the Archdiocese of Baltimore will not comply with federal law requiring churches to offer birth control coverage even it means dropping health insurance for its 3,500 employees (Walker, 2/7).
The Texas Tribune: Catholic Texans Fight Contraception Mandate
Although churches are exempt, other religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities are not. In Austin, for example, the Seton Healthcare Family, a major nonprofit hospital system that provides health care to 1.8 million Central Texans, doesn't cover contraception for its employees, and has no intention of starting. ... Some political insiders fear the contraception rule could affect President Obama's relationship with Hispanic voters, whose support he will likely need as he seeks re-election (Heinrich, 2/8).
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