White House introduces new contraceptive exemption plan
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White House introduces new contraceptive exemption plan

Washington : DC : USA | Feb 02, 2013 at 2:23 PM PST
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The White House has unveiled a new birth control plan that would allow religious groups not to cover contraception in their staff health plans. Revealing the new birth control "opt-out" on Friday, the White House allowed all faith-based organizations, be they hospitals or universities, not to provide birth control coverage in the health plans they offer to their employees.

The move follows efforts by both the Catholic and Evangelic churches to lobby for greater exemptions when it comes to providing contraceptive coverage. In some cases, various groups even sued the Obama administration for violating their beliefs by forcing contraceptive coverage in employee health plans.

The “opt-out” plan would see faith-based organizations cease birth control coverage in their employee health plans, with the employees’ own health insurance covering it instead. Prior to the announcement, only places of worship were allowed to “opt-out," but now all faith-based organizations have been proposed to be exempted from “contracting, arranging, paying or referring for such coverage."

The proposed plan itself would be a part of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, which previously demanded all employers to offer birth control coverage, including sterilization, to its employees in their health insurance plans, inviting the ire of many religious groups. More than 40 lawsuits have been filed against the Obama administration and the act itself. The “opt-out” plan is now seen as a compromise for religious groups, though it is not certain whether this will mollify them.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke about the new plan saying that it would provide "women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns."

Now, instead of an organization providing birth control coverage, this would instead be “redirected” so that the coverage is made available directly from the insurance company. And, in those cases where the organization is self-insured, the contraceptive coverage would then be put upon a third party.

Regarding the costs of the new scheme, the Health and Human Services Department said that the expense would be covered by a deduction in federal user fees for the policy issuer.

Those in favor of the changes to the 2010 Affordable Care Act have said women would now have more freedom regarding their medical choices. The plan is open to public discussion for the next 60 days.

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arkar is based in Seattle, Washington, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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