Senate Vote On Contraception Policy Set For Thursday
With the political stakes high, lawmakers are expected to vote Thursday on a Republican measure to let employers opt out of covering any health treatment they find morally objectionable.
The New York Times: Senate Nears Showdown On Contraception Policy
The Senate on Tuesday headed toward a showdown over President Obama's policy requiring health insurance coverage of contraceptives for women, even as Republicans appeared to be divided over the wisdom of pressing for a vote any time soon (Pear, 2/28).
The Wall Street Journal: Senate Set To Vote On Contraception
The heated battle over insurance coverage for contraception is shifting to Capitol Hill, with the Senate due to vote Thursday on a measure to let employers opt out of covering any health treatment they find morally objectionable (Bendavid, 2/29).
National Journal: Senate Voting On Contraception Amendment On Thursday
The Senate will vote on a controversial contraception amendment Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday. The amendment from Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., would exempt employers from covering any health care service they find immoral. Blunt pushed his amendment after political opposition erupted to an Obama administration decision to require even religiously affiliated employers to offer health insurance that covers contraceptives free of charge. Blunt's amendment is widely expected to fail (McCarthy, 2/28).
The Hill: Parties Clash Over Scope Of Blunt Amendment
Senate Democrats said Tuesday that up to 20 million women could lose access to healthcare services under an amendment from Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), but Republicans argue that the proposal would change very little about the healthcare system. Blunt’s amendment, which could see a vote in the Senate this week, would let employers opt out of federal benefit mandates that violate their religious or moral beliefs (Baker, 2/28).
Politico: Roy Blunt: The New Culture Warrior
Blunt is pushing legislation to undo — and then some — President Barack Obama’s mandate that employers provide coverage for contraceptives. The gambit, his most audacious in his 13 months in the Senate, is sure to bolster his standing with the social conservative wing of the party. But there’s worry even within his own party that his proposal goes too far and could unleash a voter backlash in a year the GOP hopes to wrest control of the White House and Senate from Democrats (Wong, 2/28).
Los Angeles Times: Republicans Keep Up Birth Control Battle
Dissatisfied with the Obama administration's compromise on contraceptive coverage, congressional Republicans are fighting to do away with the requirement that insurers provide free birth control — a strategy that might rally their conservative base but risks alienating sought-after independent voters in this election year (Mascaro, 2/28).
In related news, Politico examines what it calls the "or else" in the Obama administration's rule -
Politico: Contraception Rule Could Lead To $100 Fines, Hill Report Says
So what, exactly, is the "or else" in the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate? House Republicans asked the Congressional Research Service to look into it, and now they're blasting out the answer they got. According to the research service, insurers and employers that do not comply with the contraception coverage rule could face federal fines of $100 per day per employee (Feder, 2/28).
Meanwhile, in the House -
National Journal: House Judiciary Hearing Takes On Contraception Mandate
The House Judiciary Committee is the latest to hold a hearing on the contentious debate about an Obama administration mandate that religiously affiliated organizations, like all other employers, cover contraception in their employees' health plans. Apparently responding to the public-relations misstep of a previous House committee, which invited an all-male panel to testify on the same question, the Tuesday hearing on "Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty," included three women on its witness list. Two of the women testifying opposed the mandate. One woman, who chaired the Institute of Medicine panel that recommended the coverage requirement, defended it (Sanger-Katz, 2/28).
And, in related news -
Politico: Kathleen Sebelius: Rule Coming Soon On Contraception Coverage
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the Obama administration plans to issue a rule "in the near future" on its compromise plan on contraception coverage and is meeting with insurers, clergy and health leaders to get feedback on how to make it work (Nocera, 2/28).
Modern Healthcare: Contraception Policy Is Unfinished Business
Talk of HHS' controversial mandate requiring employers to include contraceptive services in their employee health plans has quieted down, but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated Tuesday that the administration is continuing the conversation. ... “We've begun outreach,” Sebelius told Modern Healthcare after her remarks about essential health benefits at the National Forum on Health Care, an event hosted by the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network (Zigmond, 2/28).