WASHINGTON Feb 10
The White House Office of Legislative Affairs issued the
following fact sheet on its plan to accommodate religious
organizations that were angered by the administration's rule
requiring health insurance coverage of contraceptives.
The fact sheet, sent to selected members of Congress, was
obtained by Reuters.
FACT SHEET: Women's Preventive Services and Religious
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 announced 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 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
* Establishes a one year transition period for religious
organizations while this policy is being implemented.
* The President also announced 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.
(Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Vicki Allen)