Se­nate re­jects move aimed at birth-con­trol re­quire­ment

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

Leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a con­science ex­emp­tion to a fed­eral man­date for health plans to cover pre­ven­tive ser­vices was nar­rowly de­feated, but sup­port­ers promised to con­tinue pur­su­ing it. The 51-48 re­jec­tion of the amend­ment by Sen. Roy Blunt (RMo.) was largely par­ti­san, although three Democrats—sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nel­son of Ne­braska and Bob Casey of Penn­syl­va­nia—sup­ported it, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-maine) op­posed it. The Re­pub­li­can-backed amend­ment was in re­sponse to the on­go­ing con­tro­versy re­gard­ing an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­quire­ment that pre­ven­tive ser­vices pro­vided to ben­e­fi­cia­ries at no cost in­clude birth con­trol and ster­il­iza­tion ser­vices. “This pro­posal isn’t limited to con­tra­cep­tion nor is it limited to any pre­ven­tive ser­vice,” HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Any em­ployer could re­strict ac­cess to any ser­vice they say they ob­ject to.” Repub­li­cans said the mea­sure was needed to pro­tect the re­li­gious lib­erty of em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing Catholic hos­pi­tals, for whom ar­ti­fi­cial birth con­trol and ster­il­iza­tion con­flict with the core tenets of their faith, and that it would re­quire em­ploy­ers to add ser­vices equal in cost to any they re­jected for moral grounds. Blunt said in a state­ment on the floor that he would bring the is­sue back for fu­ture votes.

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