Friday, February 10, 2012

Obama administration guarantees free contraception

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:16 AM

THE PILL: Obama has women covered.
  • THE PILL: Obama has women covered.
The White House statement on its changes in policy on contraception to remove religious objections is on the jump. It will require insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage, as part of free preventive health coverage, with no co-pays, at no cost to an employer where that employer refuses to support birth control pills and other contraceptive services for women.

No involvement of a religious institution will be required. Nor will it be required of a business, such as a hospital, loosely affiliated with a church. Insurance companies will provide coverage directly. It will save money in preventive care.

Could a religious group possibly still object? You know they will. Because the critics prefer a policy that crams THEIR religion down YOUR throat. They are close to ridding huge swaths of the country of the availability of legal abortion and many of them have made clear that birth control is next. The newly hot Republican president candidate Rick Santorum has already expressed his disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibited states from outlawing contraceptives.

The White House fix is the big news. But I urge you to refer back to my earlier post, loaded with interesting stuff. There's the fact that federal labor law — instituted in 2000 — has long prohibited all employers with 15 or more workers from discriminating in prescription coverage. If it covers drugs, it must cover birth control, not just Viagra. There's Mike Huckabee's wild demagoguery at CPAC, along with his rip of President Obama for not tithing. There's polling that even the original controversial policy was popular with a majority of the U.S. and of Catholics. Now the numbers should go to 60 or 70 per cent approval. Check it out.

Planned Parenthood backs this compromise, of course. Birth control means fewer problem pregnancies and many fewer abortions.

UPDATE: Dr. No Boozman doesn't like it and is looking for a solid reason that he hasn't yet found. But he'll find something. He doesn't want women to have birth control pills.

WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT

FACT SHEET: Women’s Preventive Services and Religious Institutions

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans will cover women’s preventive services, including contraception, without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August, 2012. This new law will save money for millions of Americans and ensure Americans nationwide get the high-quality care they need to stay healthy.

Today, President Obama will announce that his Administration will implement a policy that accommodates religious liberty while protecting the health of women. Today, nearly 99 percent of all women have used contraception at some point in their lives, but more than half of all women between the ages of 18-34 struggle to afford it.

Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.

The new policy ensures women can get contraception without paying a co-pay and addresses important concerns raised by religious groups by ensuring that objecting religious employers will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer women to organizations that provide contraception. Background on this policy is included below:

Section 2713 of the Affordable Care Act, the Administration adopted new guidelines that will require most private health plans to cover preventive services for women without charging a co-pay starting on August 1, 2012. These preventive services include well women visits, domestic violence screening, and contraception, and all were recommended to the Secretary of Health and Human Services by the independent Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.

Today, the Obama Administration will publish final rules in the Federal Register that:

* Exempts churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections.

* Establishes a one year transition period for religious organizations while this policy is being implemented.

The President will also announce that his Administration will propose and finalize a new regulation during this transition year to address the religious objections of the non-exempted religious organizations. The new regulation will require insurance companies to cover contraception if the non-exempted religious organization chooses not to. Under the policy:

* Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.

* Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception.

* Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers’ insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.

* Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.

Covering contraception saves money for insurance companies by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services. For example, there was no increase in premiums when contraception was added to the Federal Employees Health Benefit System and required of non-religious employers in Hawaii. One study found that covering contraception lowered premiums by 10 percent or more.

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