White House Announces Change to Rules Regarding Coverage of Contraceptive Services for Certain Religious Groups
As previously reported, last month HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that certain religious employers who currently do not provide coverage for contraceptive services under their insurance plan will be required to do so beginning August 1, 2013. An exception from the mandate was provided only to non-profit religious employers that: have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose; primarily employ persons who share their religious tenets; and primarily serve persons who share their religious tenets. In response to concerns raised by religious groups that the exception would not extend to church-affiliated universities, hospitals, and other entities, the Obama Administration announced on February 10, 2012 that objecting non-profit religious employers will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer women to organizations that provide contraception, but the employee’s insurance company will be required to directly offer the employee contraceptive care free of charge. Details regarding this policy will be developed through rulemaking. A notice of the policy is scheduled to be published on February 15.