Saturday, June 29, 2013


Administration issues final rules on contraception coverage and religious organizations 

June 28, 2013
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
News Division
Today, the Obama administration issued final rules that balance the goal of providing women with coverage for recommended preventive care – including contraceptive services prescribed by a health care provider – with no cost-sharing, with the goal of respecting the concerns of non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage.  The final rules reflect public feedback received in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in February 2013. 

“The health care law guarantees millions of women access to recommended preventive services at no cost,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to respect the concerns of houses of worship and other non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, while helping to ensure that women get the care they need, regardless of where they work.”

Today’s final rules finalize the proposed simpler definition of “religious employer” for purposes of the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement in response to concerns raised by some religious organizations.  These employers, primarily houses of worship, may exclude contraceptive coverage from their health plans for their employees and their dependents. 

The final rules also lay out the accommodation for other non-profit religious organizations - such as non-profit religious hospitals and institutions of higher education - that object to contraceptive coverage.   Under the accommodation these organizations will not have to contract, arrange, pay for or refer contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds, but such coverage is separately provided to women enrolled in their health plans at no cost.  The approach taken in the final rules is similar to, but simpler than, that taken in the proposed rules, and responds to comments made by many stakeholders.
With respect to an insured health plan, including a student health plan, the non-profit religious organization provides notice to its insurer that it objects to contraception coverage.  The insurer then notifies enrollees in the health plan that it is providing them separate no-cost payments for contraceptive services for as long as they remain enrolled in the health plan. 
Similarly, with respect to self-insured health plans, the non-profit religious organization provides notice to its third party administrator that objects to contraception coverage.  The third party administrator then notifies enrollees in the health plans that it is providing or arranging separate no-cost payments for contraceptive services for them for as long as they remain enrolled in the health plan. 
The final rules provide more details on the accommodation for both insurers and third party administrators.
The final rules strike the appropriate between respecting the religious considerations raised by non-profit religious organizations and increasing access to important preventive services for women.
The final rules are available here:
For more information about today’s final rules visit:

EWTN’s Statement On The
Final Rule for the HHS Mandate

Irondale, AL – Today, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule for the contraception mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  EWTN and its attorneys are still assessing this final rule, but our initial analysis has been disappointing. 

“The final rule issued today is inadequate because it appears to have changed nothing,” said EWTN President & Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw.

Specifically, it imposes the same narrow definition of a church, does not expand the exemption beyond churches, and still provides a meaningless “accommodation.” In short, it appears to have ignored the unprecedented number of public comments made against this HHS Mandate.

The proposed rule released in February of 2013 separated organizations into churches, eligible organizations, and everyone else. Under that proposed rule, religious organizations were fully exempt, eligible organizations received an accommodation, and everyone else was mandated to pay for abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives, and voluntary sterilization procedures. EWTN filed public comments strongly arguing that these services and drugs are not health care, are validly objectionable on grounds other than religious beliefs, and that the rule was faulty for allowing only churches to be fully exempt while leaving organizations like EWTN on shaky ground, unable to reliably determine if it even qualifies as an eligible organization. The proposed rule also failed to show that the “accommodation” provided for eligible organizations did anything to actually accommodate reasonable objection to the mandated services.

Despite this news, we are encouraged by the recent court victories for Tyndale Publishers and Hobby Lobby because these cases demonstrate that the rule unfairly limits religious liberty and first amendment rights. EWTN and its attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty will continue to assess the options at this time.

Said Warsaw: “EWTN remains committed to fighting this senseless mandate.” 

EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 32nd year, is available in over 225
million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website, electronic and print news services, and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.

Friday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services released the final version of the regulations requiring employers to provide insurance that includes coverage for contraceptive and abortive drugs and sterilization procedures. The rules, which are part of the implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate, have of course been a focus of controversy for quite a while, as they put many religious employers in an impossible situation, and would seem to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and to fly in the face of America’s tradition of religious toleration.

This final version does not involve any meaningful changes to the circumstances in which the rule would put religious employers. The details will, I’m sure, be thoroughly scoured in the coming days, but in my reading of the rule at this point, the only two changes that I can see actually make things marginally worse. They are not, I think, the result of the administration intentionally trying to make things even worse for religious employers (and for the administration’s own attorneys in federal court), but of the fact that two of the ways in which the last version of the rule tried to mask its effects on religious employers have turned out not to be tenable.

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1 comment:

  1. "Disapointing"? wrong word! find a word that has more FIGHT in it, like deceptive, tyrannical. Being disappointed means your sad; GET ANGRY, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!