Obama administration signals contraception compromise

The New York Times: Obama Plans Shift in Birth Control Fight, Aides Say
The Obama administration, seeking to rein in a runaway political furor over birth control and religious liberty, is set to announce a possible compromise on Friday that is meant to calm ire from the right about a new administration rule that would require health insurance plans -; including those offered by Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and charities -; to offer free birth control to female employees (Cooper, 2/10).

Politico: Birth-Control Compromise To Be Announced By White House
President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a statement at 12:15 p.m. He is expected to announce that he wants insurance companies to pick up the cost of providing free contraceptives for religious employers, according to one source familiar with the announcement. White House officials briefed reproductive rights groups and Democratic lawmakers Friday morning on the expected announcement (Budoff Brown, 2/10). 

The Wall Street Journal: Compromise on Contraceptives Expected
Under the new policy, insurance companies will be required to offer free contraception for these workers, a subtle shift aimed at moving the onus from the employer to the insurer, a senior administration official said. ... The new mandate will come from the Department of Health and Human Services via a regulation, people familiar with the decision said (Meckler and Lee, 2/10). 

The Washington Post: White House To Announce Compromise On Birth-Control Rule
Similar compromises are in place in Hawaii and several other states, but the White House had not included one when it proposed the health-care law requiring contraceptive coverage for all women. After a firestorm of opposition from Catholic church officials and other groups, the Obama administration said it would seek to modify its position (Nakamura, Wallsten and Aizenman, 2/10).

ABC News: Obama to Announce Contraception Rule 'Accommodation' for Religious Organizations
The move, based on state models, will almost certainly not satisfy bishops and other religious leaders since it will preserve the goal of women employees having their birth control fully covered by health insurance (Tapper, 2/10).

Politico Pro: Catholic Health Group Endorses Contraception Deal
The Catholic Health Association, which broke with the U.S. Conference of the the Catholic Bishops to support the health reform law, has endorsed the compromise contraception coverage policy announced Friday. "The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions," the group's president, Sister Carol Keehan, said in the statement (Feder, 2/10). 

KHN's summaries of news coverage earlier today:

Obama Readies Compromise On Birth Control Mandate

New Contraceptive Rule Has Precedents In Federal, State Law

Birth Control Mandate Is A Rallying Cry In Presidential Campaigns

Senate Democrats Split From White House On Contraception Rule

Catholics Choosing Sides In Contraception Battle As Bishops Lead Fight Against Administration 

Here is some of the key stories from major news organizations:

The New York Times: Bishops Were Prepared For Battle Over Birth Control Coverage
When after much internal debate the Obama administration finally announced its decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to cover birth control in their insurance plans, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops were fully prepared for battle. ... the birth control mandate, issued on Jan. 20, was their Pearl Harbor. ... The conflict puts not just the White House, but also the bishops to the test. Will their flock follow their lead? (Goodstein, 2/9).

Politico: Obama Birth Control Battle: Bishop Checkmates The President
It was no secret inside the West Wing that Bill Daley, a Catholic with deep connections to the church hierarchy, vehemently opposed the administration's proposal to require church-run hospitals and universities to give their employees free contraception. ... In early November ... Daley set up a four-man Oval Office meeting for himself, Obama, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Vice President Joe Biden, who both shared the view that the policy would sink the president with Catholic voters (Thrush and Budoff Brown, 2/10).

NPR: Rules Requiring Contraceptive Coverage Have Been In Force For Years
Here's the rub: The only truly novel part of the plan is the "no cost" bit. The rule would mean, for the first time, that women won't have to pay a deductible or co-payment to get prescription contraceptives. In fact, employers have pretty much been required to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans since December 2000 (Rovner, 2/10).

NPR: Catholics Split Over Obama Contraceptive Order
The conflict between the Catholic Bishops and the White House over contraceptive coverage has American  Catholics narrowly support the White House position in polls. There are potential political consequences: In presidential elections, Catholics are swing voters. They supported Al Gore in 2000, President George W. Bush in '04 and President Obama in '08 (Gonyea, 2/10).

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: They're Back: Social Issues Overtake US Politics
Social issues don't typically dominate the discussion in shaky economies. But they do raise emotions important to factors like voter turnout. And they can be key tools for political candidates clamoring for attention, campaign cash or just a change of subject in an election year (Kellman, 2/10).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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