February 14, 2013 — The Catholic Health Association on Wednesday said the Obama administration's proposed contraceptive coverage accommodation for religiously affiliated employers represents "substantial progress," the Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" reports. The proposal provided new details about the process for insurers to provide contraceptive coverage directly to employees of not-for-profits that have religious objections to birth control.
The association, which represents Catholic hospitals in the U.S., is still studying the plan, according to CHA President Sister Carol Keehan. However, the group is "grateful for the simplicity" of the self-certification process for religiously affiliated hospitals, she said, adding that CHA will provide recommendations to the Obama administration on how it thinks the process should work.
The reaction from Keehan -- who supported the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) but initially pushed back against the contraceptive coverage rules -- was more positive than a statement released last week by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (Radnofsky, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 2/13). The bishops said the proposal does not resolve their concerns, including their desire that the accommodation be extended to for-profit companies whose owners have religious objections to contraceptive coverage (AP/U-T San Diego, 2/13).
Keehan said that CHA "has remained in constant dialogue" with the bishops, who have "broader concerns" over the requirement. She added that the association's "commitment to dialogue to an acceptable solution is matched by all parties and we are committed to completing resolution of this issue" ("Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 2/13).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership