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Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Friday, August 26, 2016

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Contraceptive costs analyzed

The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services is proposing new ways for religious organizations that have moral objections to providing free contraceptives to their employees to comply with the requirement.

Among the suggestions proposed are having the costs covered by a “third-party administrator” of a health plan or “independent agency” that receive funds from other sources, such as rebates from drug makers.

The Obama administration said most college student health insurance plans will have to include free contraceptive coverage. Although the policy will apply to all colleges and universities, religiously affiliated institutions will be given an additional year to comply with the mandate.

It also said colleges that have self-insured student health coverage plans will not be required to offer free contraceptive coverage.

The U.S bishops and Catholic health care and college organizations are reviewing the proposals. Even with the new federal proposal that third-party administrators pay the costs of contraceptives for religious employers who object to the coverage, the health reform law’s contraceptive mandate “remains radically flawed,” the bishops say.

Before it makes a final decision on the proposed ruling, the Obama administration is seeking public comment until June 19.

Earlier this year, HHS said the federal government would require all employers, including religious employers, to provide no-cost coverage of all contraceptives approved by Food and Drug Administration as part of preventive health services for women. Only houses of worship are exempt.

In a revision, President Barack Obama said religious employers could decline to cover contraceptives if they were morally opposed to them, but the health insurers that provide their health plans would be required to offer contraceptives free of charge to women who requested such coverage. How the mandate applied to self-insured religious employers was not addressed.





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