Fi­nal rule on birth con­trol gives re­li­gious em­ploy­ers ex­tra year

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

Re­li­gious em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing Ro­man Catholic hospi­tals, will have an ad­di­tional year to com­ply with a new fed­eral re­quire­ment that they of­fer free birth con­trol to em­ploy­ees through their health in­sur­ance plans. “This ad­di­tional year will al­low these or­ga­ni­za­tions more time and flex­i­bil­ity to adapt to this new rule,” HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius said in a writ­ten state­ment. HHS pub­lished the fi­nal reg­u­la­tions Jan. 20 and they take ef­fect Aug. 1. The reg­u­la­tions in­clude a birth­con­trol cov­er­age ex­emp­tion for a “small group” of re­li­gious em­ploy­ers that said the re­quire­ment would con­flict with their re­li­gious be­liefs. The free-cov­er­age re­quire­ment was a pro­vi­sion of the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. Some re­li­gious groups, in­clud­ing Catholic hospi­tals, have said the man­date would con­flict with their mo­ral teach­ings and force them to drop their drug cov­er­age for all em­ploy­ees. Fed­eral of­fi­cials down­played the like­li­hood of that hap­pen­ing since “whole­sale drop­ping of cov­er­age” has yet to oc­cur. “The Catholic Health As­so­ci­a­tion is dis­ap­pointed that the def­i­ni­tion of a re­li­gious em­ployer was not broad­ened in to­day’s an­nounce­ment by HHS re­gard­ing the fi­nal rule on pre­ven­tive health ser­vices for women,” Sis­ter Carol Kee­han, pres­i­dent and CEO of the CHA, said in a writ­ten state­ment. “This was a missed op­por­tu­nity to be clear on ap­pro­pri­ate con­science pro­tec­tion.” Ul­ti­mately, all em­ploy­ers must com­ply with the new reg­u­la­tions by Aug. 1, 2013.

Kee­han: Rul­ing was a “missed op­por­tu­nity to be clear.”

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