The Catholic Health Association, one of the Obama administration’s most reliable allies in passing and promoting the health care reform law, has made peace with the contraception provision that distressed many of its members.
After months of talks between church officials and the White House, the CHA said in a memorandum to Catholic health care providers suggesting the organization is satisfied with the administration’s solution for ensuring workers have access to contraception at no out-of-pocket cost while not compelling religious employers to pay for it or arrange it.
The CHA was first noncommittal and then formally opposed the administration’s attempt to defuse the contraception controversy in early 2012.
“Throughout this process, CHA has been in dialogue with the leadership of the Bishops’ Conference, the administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We are pleased that our members now have an accommodation that will not require them to contract, provide, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage,” the memo read.
Under regulations proposed in February and finalized last month, HHS will require insurers to assume the cost of the coverage when nonprofit employers raise a religious objection. If the employer is self-insured, the third-party administrator would arrange payments for contraceptive services.
“HHS has now established an accommodation that will allow our ministries to continue offering health insurance plans for their employees as they have always done,” association CEO Sister Carol Keehan said in a statement with the memo, published by the National Catholic Reporter. “We also recognize that this resolution has not been what some organizations, including the Bishops’ Conference, asked for on behalf of a wider group. Our contribution to the process has been to work for the protection of religious organizations, especially our members. We recognize the broader issues will continue to be debated and litigated by others.”
Indeed, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a July 3 statement that the administration’s compromise accomplished nothing “that eliminates the need to continue defending our rights in Congress and the courts.” Dozens of lawsuits challenging the rule, including some filed by health care organizations, are working their way through the federal courts.
Ashok Selvam writes for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Business Insurance.