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HHS issues proposed rules on exemptions from contraceptive coverage


PATRICIA ZAPOR

Source:
Catholic News Service
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
2/1/2013

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ABSTRACTCNS STORY: HHS issues proposed rules on exemptions from contraceptive coverage Home    |    About Us    |    Contacts    |    Products        News Items   Top Stories   News Briefs   Vatican   Origins   Africa   Headlines   Also Featuring   Movie Reviews   Sunday Scripture   CNS Blog   Links to Clients   Major Events   2008 papal visit   World Youth Day   John Paul II   For Clients   Client Login   CNS Insider   We're also on ...   Facebook   Twitter   RSS Feeds   Top Stories   Vatican   Movie Reviews   CNS Blog .   For More Info  If you would like  more information  about Catholic  News Service,  please contact  CNS at one of  the following:  cns@  catholicnews.com  or  (202) 541-3250 .   Copyright  This material  may not  be published,  broadcast,  rewritten or  otherwise  distributed,  except by  linking to  a page on  this site. .   CNS Story: HHS-REVAMP (UPDATED) Feb-1-2013 (830 words) With photo. xxxn HHS issues proposed rules on exemptions from contraceptive coverage The headquarters of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is seen in Washington in this file photo. The department Feb. 1 issued revised regulations related to the contraception mandate and religious concerns under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. U.S. bishops had lambasted the mandate as violating religious freedom. (CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec) By Patricia Zapor Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Exemptions from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be simplified to include many more types of religious institutions and accommodate the needs of self-insured church entities that say they must keep a clear financial and functional wall between themselves and the provision of contraceptives. A new set of proposed rules announced Feb. 1 by the Department of Health and Human Services attempt to accommodate objections raised by Catholic institutions, among others, that said the previous rules would force them to stop providing employee health insurance because the federal requirement to include contraceptive coverage violates their religious beliefs. The Affordable Care Act includes coverage of contraceptives in all insurance plans. Under what has become known as the contraceptive mandate, the early version of proposed rules for this part of the nationwide health care program mandated all employers provide free coverage of contraceptives for their workers. The first version of proposed rules for this coverage exempted only religious organizations whose main purpose is the inculcation of faith and who employ and serve members of the faith. A later "accommodation" said nonexempt organizations could do this through third-party insurers. The expansion would cover religious higher education institutions, health care providers and charitable agencies that do not discriminate on the basis of religion as to whom they serve or employ. The new proposed rules specify that no exemption will be given to "for-profit, secular employers." Some for-profit entities such as Christian-owned toy retailer Hobby Lobby have sued the federal government over the contraceptive mandate, saying that it violates the religious beliefs of the owners and the faith-based company outlook, and so they should be entitled to a religious exemption. A brief statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the conference welcomed "the opportunity to study the proposed .......