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Round 2: Obama admin widens birth control mandate to college students

Sat, Mar 17, 2012

Nassau, News, News, Suffolk

The White House released this 32-page proposal late Friday afternoon. It outlines three different options to ensure that the health plans for employees and students of religious organizations cover birth control, including abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations, without co-pay.

On pages 17 and 18, the report reads:

The Departments also intend to propose an accommodation for religious organizations that are non-profit institutions of higher education with religious objections to contraceptive coverage with respect to the student health insurance plans that they arrange. In the final regulation published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, “student health insurance coverage” is defined as a type of individual market health insurance coverage offered to students and their dependents under a written agreement between an institution of higher education and an issuer.  Some non-profit religious colleges and universities object to signing a written agreement providing for student health insurance coverage that includes contraceptive coverage. Some non-profit religious colleges and universities include funding for their student health insurance plans in their student aid packages and would object if contraceptive coverage were included in the student health insurance plan. The preamble to the final regulation on student health insurance plans provides that the temporary enforcement safe harbor announced on February 10, 2012, with respect to certain non-exempt, non-profit organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage extends on comparable terms to student health insurance plans if offered through non-profit institutions of higher education with such objections. After the one-year transition period, the Departments would propose to treat student health insurance plans arranged by non-profit religious institutions of higher education that object to contraceptive coverage on religious grounds in a manner comparable to that in which insured group health plans sponsored by religious organizations eligible for the accommodation are treated. This means that the issuer of the student health insurance plan would, independent of the agreement with the institution of higher education, provide student enrollees and their dependents with contraceptive coverage without cost sharing and without charge.  (Bold emphasis is ours.)

At a March 15th Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney in James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, this exchange took place in regard to the Administration’s birth control mandate on employers.

Q    And also, Jay, the U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops are signaling that they will continue to fight for what they’re calling a “broader religious exemption” to the employer birth control mandate.  I’m wondering what your reaction is to that.  And there’s also been some discussion that they would welcome more dialogue with the executive branch.  Is that something that you would be amenable to?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, we have had a dialogue with a lot of stakeholders on the issue of providing preventive services to women.  And as you know because you covered it, the President — he brought the process to a solution here that met his two objectives — to ensure that women across America, no matter where they worked were able to get the same preventive services, including contraceptive services without having to pay for them, and that religious — that those with religious objections would not have to — institutions, for example, like colleges and universities would not have to provide or pay for contraception if they objected to doing so.  And that is the solution that we reached.

And we continue to have discussions with stakeholders on the issue of a self-funded plan, so-called self-funded plans, as we made clear we would.  But the President’s position here, the solution that was reached here to achieve these two objectives and to find that balance has been reached.  And we firmly believe that it achieves the goals that the President set.

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