KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration Offers Proposal To Fix Contraception Coverage Rule

Under the plan, insurance companies would pick up the cost for providing contraceptives to women employed by religious affiliated employers, but the administration offered ways to help cover those expenses.

Reuters: Obama Administration Details Contraceptives Rule Fix
The Obama administration began laying out its blueprint on Friday for accommodating the moral concerns of religious institutions that oppose its policy of requiring free coverage for women's contraceptives through employer-sponsored health plans. ... The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has spearheaded opposition to Obama contraceptives policies, said it would examine the administration's new proposed language to see if it met its demands. But conference spokeswoman Sister Mary Ann Walsh chided the administration for releasing the document late on a Friday as Catholic leaders prepared to observe St. Patrick's Day on Saturday (Morgan and Simon, 3/16).

The Associated Press: Admin. Outlines Options On Birth Control Coverage
The Obama administration signaled Friday it's willing to help insurance companies offset the cost of providing free birth control to women working at church-affiliated institutions like hospitals and colleges. By finding a way to make the middlemen whole, the administration may be able to extricate itself from an unexpected political furor over birth control that has mobilized partisans across the political spectrum a half-century after the advent of the pill (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/16).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: HHS Floats New Ideas For Contraception Coverage Compromise
Again wading into the conflict between religious liberty and reproductive rights, the Obama administration on Friday suggested a number of ways it might arrange for insurers to pay for the contraception of employees of religious organizations without using any premium money from those groups (Rau, 3/16).

National Journal: Obama Administration Tries To Clear Up Contraception Coverage Questions
The Obama administration proposed three ways self-insured religious employers could avoid paying for contraception. The first would have a third-party administrator pay for the contraception coverage and recoup the costs through drug rebates or other fees. The second would have the federal government pay the third-party administrator a rebate within an insurance fee program that starts in 2014 and is established under the health reform law. The third option would have the third-party administrator contract with an Office of Personnel Management plan on state insurance exchanges to offer contraception coverage alone (McCarthy, 3/16).

Politico: HHS Spells Out New Options For Contraception Coverage Rule
Self-insured employers always presented one of the biggest problems with the policy. They directly cover employees' health costs out of their own funds, rather than paying premiums to an insurer (Feder, 3/16).

Modern Healthcare: Administration Offers Proposals On Contraceptive Coverage, Seeks Public Input
The Obama administration's controversial preventive-services policy resurfaced Friday when HHS and the Labor and Treasury departments issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that includes proposals and seeks comment from all Americans on how to implement a new policy that President Barack Obama and HHS Kathleen Sebelius announced last month. In that February proposal, the administration sought to accommodate religious employers that object to providing contraceptive services in health plans by requiring insurance companies, not the employers, to offer those services directly to women at no charge (Zigmond, 3/16).

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