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Obama fixes contraception mandate. (updated)

President Obama has announced a major revision of the mandate requiring employers to provide contraception coverage in employee health plans. Under the new rule, senior administration officials confirmed, no religious institution will have to pay for health-insurance plans that include contraception coverage. Not houses of worship, not parish schools, not universities, not hospitals, not charitable organizations.The outline of the new rule is fairly simple. Nonprofit religious institutions that do not fall within the narrow religious exemption will not have to offer employee health plans that cover contraception. Instead, the employer's insurance company will have to contact employees directly and offer contraception coverage at no cost. (Religious organizations that primarily employ and serve co-religionists, and whose mission is primarily to inculcate its values, will not be covered by this new arrangement.)

Why would insurers agree to provide contraception services for free? Because, actuarially, it seems to make financial sense. The average pregnancy costs roughly $12,000. Enrollees who use contraception are cheaper to cover.

The revised ruling seems to have satisfied both Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, who had criticized the original ruling, and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, both of whom made statements praising the revised policy.Given that religious institutions will not have to pay for policies that include contraception, and they there is no requirement that they refer employees for such services, the new policy directly addresses the legitimate objections raised by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.We'll see. More details as they come throughout the day.

Updates: USCCB press release:

"While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them," said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of USCCB. "The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals," he said.

"Today's decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction," Cardinal-designate Dolan said. "We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations."
 

Statement from Sr. Keehan:

The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance.This difference has at times been uncomfortable but it has helped our country sort through an issue that has been important throughout the history of our great democracy.The Catholic Health Association remains committed to working with the Administration and others to fully implement the Affordable Care Act to extend comprehensive and quality health care to many who suffer today from the lack of it.

President Obama's remarks:

As part of the health care reform law that I signed last year, all insurance plans are required to cover preventive care at no cost. That means free check-ups, free mammograms, immunizations and other basic services. We fought for this because it saves lives and it saves money - for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody. That's because its a lot cheaper to prevent an illness than to treat one.

We also accepted a recommendation from the experts at the Institute of Medicine that when it comes to women, preventive care should include coverage of contraceptive services such as birth control. In addition to family planning, doctors often prescribe contraception as a way to reduce the risks of ovarian and other cancers, and treat a variety of different ailments. And we know that the overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.

Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives - 99 percent. And yet, more than half of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 have struggled to afford it. So for all these reasons, we decided to follow the judgment of the nations leading medical experts and make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive care.

Whether you're a teacher, or a small businesswoman, or a nurse, or a janitor, no woman's health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes. Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period. This basic principle is already the law in 28 states across the country.

Now, as we move to implement this rule, however, we've been mindful that there's another principle at stake here - and thats the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution. As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right. In fact, my first job in Chicago was working with Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods, and my salary was funded by a grant from an arm of the Catholic Church. And I saw that local churches often did more good for a community than a government program ever could, so I know how important the work that faith-based organizations do and how much impact they can have in their communities. I also know that some religious institutions - particularly those affiliated with the Catholic Church - have a religious objection to directly providing insurance that covers contraceptive services for their employees. And that's why we originally exempted all churches from this requirement - an exemption, by the way, that eight states didn't already have. And that's why, from the very beginning of this process, I spoke directly to various Catholic officials, and I promised that before finalizing the rule as it applied to them, we would spend the next year working with institutions like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities to find an equitable solution that protects religious liberty and ensures that every woman has access to the care that she needs.

Now, after the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks, as well as, frankly, the more cynical desire on the part of some to make this into a political football, it became clear that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option, that we needed to move this faster. So last week, I directed the Department of Health and Human Services to speed up the process that had already been envisioned. We weren't going to spend a year doing this; we're going to spend a week or two doing this.Today, we've reached a decision on how to move forward. Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services - no matter where they work. So that core principle remains. But if a woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company - not the hospital, not the charity - will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.The result will be that religious organizations wont have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. Let me repeat: These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they'll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.

Now, I've been confident from the start that we could work out a sensible approach here, just as I promised. I understand some folks in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue, but it shouldn't be. I certainly never saw it that way. This is an issue where people of goodwill on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone. With today's announcement, we've done that. Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.We live in a pluralistic society where we're not going to agree on every single issue, or share every belief. That doesn't mean that we have to choose between individual liberty and basic fairness for all Americans. We are unique among nations for having been founded upon both these principles, and our obligation as citizens is to carry them forward. I have complete faith that we can do that. Thank you very much, everybody.

E. J. Dionne reports Catholic Charities USA is pleased with the new ruling:

"Catholic Charities USA welcomes the Administration's attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community and we look forward to reviewing the final language," the group said. "We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and are committed to continuing our work to ensure that our religious institutions will continue to be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs, while also being committed to providing access to quality healthcare for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country."

And Catholics for Choice is none too pleased:

Previous compromises of this nature, such as that in Hawaii, may have made some conservatives happy, but they have also meant that some women have not been able to access coverage in a timely and easy manner. That is unacceptable.Its unfortunate that on this issue, as many others, far too many in the administration and Congress have sacrificed womens health to get something they want more.

I'm not sure they have the slightest idea what the new rule actually requires.

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Instead, the employers insurance company will have to contact employees directly and offer contraception coverage as a separate policy at no cost.Leave it up to Obama and his administration to make believe that the costs just disappear....

CBS quotes a document from the White House:* Today, the Obama Administration will publish final rules in the Federal Register that:o Exempts churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections.o Establishes a one year transition period for religious organizations while this policy is being implemented.* The President will also announce that his Administration will propose and finalize a new regulation during this transition year to address the religious objections of the non-exempted religious organizations. The new regulation will require insurance companies to cover contraception if the non-exempted religious organization chooses not to. Under the policy:o Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.o Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception.o Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers' insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.o Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.Covering contraception saves money for insurance companies by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services. For example, there was no increase in premiums when contraception was added to the Federal Employees Health Benefit System and required of non-religious employers in Hawaii. One study found that covering contraception lowered premiums by 10 percent or more.

This is a fair and reasonable accomodation.

Bruce, the last paragraph of that statement from the White House explains that it does not cost more to provide coverage for contraception because it reduces costs the insurance company would otherwise pay for pregnancy.

Bruce et al are disappointed that this 'religious war' might have a truce. 'war' creats an energy that is lacking. . Predictions; Bishops and GOP will take credit for a huge defense of religious liberty. Catholic Universities and hospitals that have been covering BC in their employee health care policies for ten years will now have to scramble and re-write all their existing insurance policies, and therefore will have a lot of sniping from faculty and employees. Some Universities might just say 'forgettaboutit' and get a rush of contempt from the usual suspects.

Sr. Keenan and the CHA say yes (as does Planned Parenthood.No word from USCCB:Though theyre on opposite sides of the birth control and abortion debate, both Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued statements Friday morning applauding the compromise, which allows religious organizations to keep contraception out of its coverage while requiring the insurance companies to step in and offer contraceptive coverage to the female employees.The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions, Keehan said. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed. We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance. This difference has at times been uncomfortable but it has helped our country sort through an issue that has been important throughout the history of our great democracy.http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/white-house-to-announce-acc...

I'm happy with what I see in that.

Whew! That was a close one. We'll see if all the bishops accept it. Good for Obama for reacting decisively and avoiding what could have been a brutal constitutional war. He didn't say in so many words, "I made a mistake", but actions speak louder than words. The compromise is a fine one.

"Universities and hospitals that have been covering BC in their employee health care policies for ten years will now have to scramble and re-write all their existing insurance policies, and therefore will have a lot of sniping from faculty and employees."Ed, it's an interesting point. Do any of these HHS regulations supersede existing state mandates? Or do they exist along side one another?

Hopefully the bishops will take this opportunity to teach about the meaning of the word "direct" in moral theology. It enters into so many of these thorny issues and I know I would like more clarity myself.http://youtu.be/G2y8Sx4B2Sk

Let's say I won't drive someone someplace to facilitate an immoral act. Instead, I call a cab. It's still "direct" cooperation.Wenski said the Miami Archdiocese pays an insurance company to cover its 5,000 employees and argued that if the insurance company is paying for and providing contraceptives, as the new compromise lays out, the church would still be paying for it. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/10/mixed-catholic-reaction-to-revi...

Looks as if the White House consulted with Sr. Carol Keehan of CHA and not anyone from the USCCB (not Picarello, Doerflinger, etc). "An official with the U.S. Catholic Bishops said that the administration did not consult with their group before announcing the compromise, but the group has not yet officially commented on the revisions."http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/conservative-catholic...

Already you find rejection; I love the talk about a shell game when, imo, it is the ever changing response. Oh, you will give to us what we first said we wanted? Well now, that's not really proper... say what?! Seriously, I hope Native Americans, Muslims, Quakers and others take note! http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/02/source-obam... on religion said the accommodation isn't enough. "It's a shell game," says Robert Destro, law professor at Catholic University.Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said he remained unsatisfied."A resolution to this issue cannot only cover 'religious' employers," Pavone said. "Religious freedom, which includes freedom of conscience, does not belong only to religious entities but to every American. There are many non-religious reasons to object to the Administration's policy."

Sorry everything after the link is from the article; I meant to put it in quotes

Inasmuch as our notions of religious liberty have been preserved, this is something to celebrate.To the extent that whatever cooperation with evil Catholic institutions would have been required to engage in has now been made more remote, or even removed completely, this is a reason to cheer.If the question is, is the Catholic Church pleased that the US government requires employers to subsidize the sinful behavior of its employees, the answer, I hope, is no.

At face value, this is a good compromise, but the question about the states' laws and Catholic universities practice that have previously covered these services is a worthwhile one. Also, what does this mean about sterilizations that were supposedly in the new plan. Will insurance companies cover them also for free? This may be fiscally prudent in the long run but I'm not sure.I suppose the larger bullet may have been dodged about the "religious liberty" and "religious insitution" issue, but I can't imagine that it is over. Also, raising the whole "birth control" issue as it had setled into a rather comfortable DADT will be intersting to see within the Church.Women will be covered at no expense to themselves - that is good. However, I still wonder about what twisting insurance companies will do with other premiums to cover these costs even if it seems to mean that they would have less outlay from expenses from childbirth.

Smart resolution.

Interesting factoid: The Netherlands, home of free "love" and legal gay marriage and legal "recreational" drugs and FREE abortion on demand, has 1/4 the abortion rate of the most conservative, abortion-restricted states in the US. What creates demand for abortion isn't the availability of abortion, it's the availability of contraception. If the US Bishops had their way, no one would use "artificial" contraception and there would be 5 times as many abortions, as was the case in Russia, before Russia instituted programs to dramatically include availability of contraception. The US abortion rate has plummeted down to nearly that existing before Roe v Wade, and it's the result of contraception, not Operation Rescue or conservative politics. With not the not only universal availability of free contraception, but universal availability of free contraception counseling, hopefully the US abortion rate will precipitously fall by 75%, as in the case of the Netherlands, preventing the slaughter of 900,000 babies per year.If the US Bishops oppose the latest, entirely sensible compromise proposed by the Obama administration, they'll lose whatever moral high ground they think they have. They would have the nation believe that they are martyrs for the faith and that the Catholic Church is a persecuted institution. Nothing can be further from the truth.- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

So insurance companies will be required by law to offer free contraception (which may or may not include sterilization) to women whose Catholic employers will NOT cover it?But women whose employers DO cover contraception WILL have to pay for contraception by meeting whatever the non-Catholic employer policy requires in the way of co-pays and deductibles?Sounds like working for a Catholic employer will be a great deal for women who want contraception!I must be missing something here. What is it?

Ooops. Need the (non-existent edit function).Should have read What creates demand for abortion isnt the availability of abortion, its the NON-availability of contraception.

Hi Jean Raber. In the case of contraception services (including counseling), there is to be first dollar coverage. i.e. no deductible and no co-pay.

Why would insurers agree to provide contraception services for free? Because . . .. . . they would not. They will not.This "compromise" is completely illusory.While contraceptives may not be included as a covered benefit, the cost of the contraceptives will nevertheless be included in the premiums that Catholic employers will be required to pay. Catholic employers will still be paying for and subsidizing contraception.Nothing has changed.But it does give Obama supporters cover to falsely claim that the matter has been resolved.

While contraceptives may not be included as a covered benefit, the cost of the contraceptives will nevertheless be included in the premiums that Catholic employers will be required to pay. Catholic employers will still be paying for and subsidizing contraception.Bender,According to what I have read, contraceptive coverage is either cost-neutral or actually saves the insurance company money. The costs of pregnancy and hospital delivery are dramatically more than the costs of contraception.

Larry, thanks, but I can't tell from your response whether that first-dollar rule applies to just exempted religious employers or ALL employers?Moreover, if the government mandates something free from an insurance company, isn't it likely the company will simply pass the cost on to consumers across the board? So, as I think my friend Kathy has implied, Catholic employers will have to absorb any premium hikes this "free" stuff will cost the companies ... and will thereby end up paying for contraception indirectly.Seems to me a better solution would be to provide universal health care. Churches and other religious institutions pay no taxes, so they won't be paying for ANY benefits, including contraception.However, individual Catholics would have to pay into a universal system, which means they would likely pay for other people's contraception.Ye gods, is there no way out?!

Ooops, I see Bender beat me to the point. Go Bender!But perhaps give some thought to how far you want to take this "don't make Catholics pay for the sins of others" rant. When you live in a free society, you always end up paying for things you find repugnant. For instance, my subscription to C'weal keeps this blog up so you can express your opinions at no cost to yourself.I wonder if there's any way for some Catholics to be mollified on this short of forming their own theocracy?

As is typical, the rich already have insurance which goes through companies which already pay for the things they are fighting against now (if not their own policy, the policies given to others). They are saying it's not good enough for others but it is good enough for themselves. I would take their criticism to heart if they decided to have no insurance and to be with those who have no insurance until insurance companies remove all that they object to in their policies. They don't, so it tells me all we need to know.

E. J. Dionne quotes Catholic Charitiies. They approve (sort of - may be waiting to hear from the bishops)"Catholic Charities USA also spoke favorably of Obamas decision: Catholic Charities USA welcomes the Administrations attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community and we look forward to reviewing the final language, the group said. We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and are committed to continuing our work to ensure that our religious institutions will continue to be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs, while also being committed to providing access to quality healthcare for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country.Some conservative Catholics were claiming even before the announcement that Obamas move was insufficient, and they appeared to be moving the goal posts in the argument by demanding that the exemption be extended to any employers with a religious objection to contraception coverage. But there was also sentiment among Bishops that they should be prepared to declare victory and move on.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/dionne-obama-cont...

Jean,Here's my suggestion. Since it seems likely that insurance coverage with contraception coverage actually costs the insurance company less than insurance without contraception coverage, religious organizations who take advantage of this compromise should pay more to the insurance company. Surely the bishops don't want organizations to benefit from the fact that their employees are taking advantage of contraception coverage and saving the insurance company money. To be totally pure, religious organizations should pay the insurance companies a rate that reflects the maternity costs that would have been incurred had none of its employees used contraception.

JohnIndeed, it is moving goalposts. Which is sad. It is also expected.

CNN says the president spoke to Archbishop Dolan, who then arranged a conference call to iscussion it with more bishops. They must be trying to agree among themselves how to respond, since there is no word from Dolan and only Wenkis is quoted:The USCCB is losing the PR edge by not being able to respond quickly. "Washington (CNN) As word trickled out of a White House compromise with Catholic groups on its rule around contraception coverage on Friday morning, administration officials took to the phones to sell the plan to religious leaders across the spectrum.Catholic officials say President Obama called New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, to explain the revised policy, which exempts religiously affiliated universities and hospitals for paying for no cost contraception for their employees but requires insurers to offer such coverage for for free to women who work at such institutions.It's unclear how Dolan has responded to the White House plan, but some other bishops have been critical. "I think he's punting, just kicking the can down the road," Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenkis told CNN. "He's hasn't really addressed our concerns. I think the only thing to do is... to take back the whole thing."After hanging up with Obama Friday morning, Dolan quickly organized a conference call with other bishops nationwide, according to a source briefed on the calls. It's yet to be seen how the Catholic Church will greet the revised White House policy, but some conservative religious voices say they're not satisfied."http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/10/mixed-catholic-reaction-to-revi...

I think we can accept this agreement while still not being pleased with the road we took to get here.The Administration *first* chose to please PP and Emily's List, and then backtracked to address Catholic concerns (of which they were well aware) only after a week of unrelenting criticism.So, if some Catholics are giving less than three cheers , I can't say I blame them.

David, yes, it is true that insurance companies find it far cheaper to pay for contraceptives and abortions than maternity costs and the ensuing little dependents. In my view, the larger issue in this specific push-pull over contraception is that when one group is allowed a pass based on religious conscience, another group will end up paying the cost. During World War II, someone else's kid was drafted and sent to the front because another kid was given a CO by the draft board. I think that's the interesting gray area we have to wrestle with as a free society; if we don't protect minority claims, democracy can become a tyranny. On the other hand, it's very easy for the minority to be so concerned with their parochial views that they don't see how they affect the rest of us.

I'm not sure that's really "moving the goal posts" since it is the "goal" of every most conservative Catholics that there not be a contraception mandate at all, let alone a narrow religious exception to it.That's a separate questions then what could have reasonably expected from this particular skirmish. My opinion is that this represents most of what could have been reasonably hoped for in the current environment.If Catholic conservatives want more, we are going to have to work to change the environment.

I think I don't fully understand the compromise because I don't fully understand how insurance works in the first place. In my dim understanding of things, private universities of a certain size pony up the capital for insurance costs themselves, and then hire an outside company to administer those insurance funds.In this instance, wouldn't it be the case that a Catholic university would be basically just paying another company to contact their employers to provide a service that the university ostensibly sees as morally objectionable? And wouldn't the university itself be the sole beneficiary of the reduced health care costs that come from providing its employers with birth control?Again, I might be very off base in how I understand insurance to work, so I apologize if my question seems to come from left-field.

John -- look to the comments and links to blog posts here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2012/02/10/obama-accommodation... You will see that the talk is this is a fake, this is not good, this doesn't do it, etc. Now, I do agree with you -- we really have to change the environment. 100% agree with that. It would be great if we can remove the hyper-sexuality leading to the use of contraceptives in our society. That we get people to see the problems of contraceptives and to stop using them. That would be great. However, I fear this is not going to happen with people from both sides of the issue not wanting an honest discussion.

According to what I have read, contraceptive coverage is either cost-neutral or actually saves the insurance company money.__________________The money that insurance companies pay to pharmacies that sell contraceptives is cold hard cash. Real money.Where does that cash come from?Do insurance companies get that cash from the ether of hypothetical actuarial future "savings"? No, they get the cold hard cash, the physically-existing tangible money from premiums.They take those premiums, paid by Catholic employers and others, and it is that money that is used to pay the pharmacies for contraceptives.At least the prior plan had the benefit of being open and honest.

USCCB response - not exactly enthusiastic.New opportunity to dialogue with executive branchToo soon to tell whether and how much improvement on core concernsCommitment to religious liberty for all means legislation still necessaryWASHINGTON The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obamas announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them, said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of USCCB.The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals, he said.Todays decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction, Cardinal-designate Dolan said. We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.

Bender: I don't want to blow your mind, but you know those contraception-free plans the bishops and other Catholics have been paying for over the years? Their money goes to insurance companies that cover contraception in other plans. You know those taxes you pay to the federal government? They help to pay for contraception for women on Medicaid. They also help to pay for non-elective abortions.

Not a bad compromise for a "foreign-born, Saul Alinsky-loving, Kenyan socialist, illegitimately elected" president hellbent on destroying the First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty!What a politically deft move by the President: Nothing essentially changes for women who will get the comprehensive health care insurance coverage they desperately need!Could the delay for a response from Arch. Dolan be because the hierarchs have to check with headquarters first to get their marching orders?I wonder what political games the hierarchs will now indulge themselves?

"I wonder what political games the hierarchs will now indulge themselves?"--Jim Jenkins The three lines at the beginning of the press release may give a clue:"New opportunity to dialogue with executive branchToo soon to tell whether and how much improvement on core concernsCommitment to religious liberty for all means legislation still necessary"It wasn't clear to me at first that they were part of the press release but I checked the New York Archdioces ewebsite and they were there, also.The first line tries to frame this as just a first offer from Obama and that they can now send over Picarello and Doerflinger to negotiate the real deal. I doubt that Obama sees it that way and that while they will be polite in listening to them and adjusting technical details, the bishops have basically missed the train on shaping the deal. The last line suggests that they still want to get Rubio's bill passed. I think that was never very likely to get through the Senate andthat is much less likely now that Obama has made a reasonable response to their concerns.

Kathy -- 1:03 pm: "Wenski said the Miami Archdiocese pays an insurance company to cover its 5,000 employees and argued that if the insurance company is paying for and providing contraceptives, as the new compromise lays out, the church would still be paying for it."If it is true, as it has been reported, that providing access to contraception lowers an insurer's costs by reducing the incidence of much more costly pregnancy, and that insurers adjust premiums to reflect that, then the Archdiocese may actually save money under the new arrangement. That very saving, I suppose, could be viewed as cooperation with, or profiting from, evil. If so, the Archdiocese may insist on paying the higher premium. But it is not mandated.

If the bishops have objected to paying insurance companies that cover contraception at all -- that is, to people not included in their employees plans -- then why have they remained silent for all these years?Welcome to remote material cooperation.

"To be totally pure, religious organizations should pay the insurance companies a rate that reflects the maternity costs that would have been incurred had none of its employees used contraception."If you want to take this to the nth degree, and some people seem to, religious organizations should not provide health insurance nor any wages that could be spent on contraception and abortion. They should go live on an isolated island with Tom Monaghan as king.

They don't like it:"The following letter was signed by former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Princeton Prof. Robert George, Notre Dame Law Prof. Carter Snead, Catholic University of America President John Garvey, and EPPC Fellow Yuval Levin."See: http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=26523

Why would insurers agree to provide contraception services for free? Because, actuarially, it makes financial sense. The average pregnancy costs roughly $12,000. Enrollees who use contraception are cheaper to cover.If that's the case, why was any mandate ever seen as necessary? Forget free: insurance companies would have all been huge discounts for employers who buy the "contraceptive included" package, and all employers who don't have moral/religious objections would have responded accordingly. If the theory behind a law is that we need to force big insurance companies to save themselves money, because they just aren't being greedy enough, you should probably recheck your calculations.

Wow -- CFFC takes a harder line on contraception than *Planned Parenthood*I guess we Catholics have the whole spectrum covered...

Bill Donahue doesn't like itSee: http://www.catholicleague.org/obamas-ploy-adds-insult-to-injury/He's scheduled to appear on CNN this afternoon and on two Fox News programs tonight.

I think the theory behind the law is to get more people health coverage.

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