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Obama administration proposes new rules on birth control coverage

The rules would require nonprofits, including religious colleges and hospitals, and closely held private companies, like Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby, to inform the administration that they object on religious grounds to paying for contraceptive coverage.
by Chris Casteel Published: August 22, 2014
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The Obama administration proposed new rules on Friday aimed at providing contraceptives to women who work for religious organizations and companies that object to financing some or all forms of birth control.

The rules would require nonprofits, including religious colleges and hospitals, and closely held private companies, like Hobby Lobby, to inform the administration that they object on religious grounds to paying for contraceptive coverage.

The administration would then inform the relevant insurance carriers to provide the coverage at no cost to the organization or company.

The rule regarding for-profit companies was developed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that Hobby Lobby, a crafts chain based in Oklahoma City, didn’t have to comply with the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act because the family that controls the company objected on religious grounds to financing some of the methods.

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, companies like Hobby Lobby would not, under the proposed rule, have to “contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.”

The administration is seeking comment from the public on how to define a closely held for-profit company, something the Supreme Court did not do in its decision.

In regard to nonprofit organizations, the new rule goes into effect immediately and will require them to notify the administration in writing that they object to providing contraceptive coverage.

Then the administration would “notify insurers and third-party administrators so that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage for contraceptive services, with no additional cost to the enrollee or the employer,” according to the HHS.

Religious organizations had objected to a previous rule that required them to send a form to the insurance plan administrators, believing it still made them complicit in providing contraceptives that violated their religious beliefs.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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