It appears a compromise is in the works between President Obama on birth control — the new health care laws that are the crown jewels thus far in his Presidency — and the objections and lawsuits brought by religious groups seeking the continued legal right to restrict women in their employ from using earned healthcare benefits to obtain birth control devices, medications, or procedures.
It’s not clear if the Obama birth control compromise will placate either side just yet, and it isn’t even really clear how it will be administrated. US News And World Report explains what we know so far:
“For example, a mosque whose food pantry serves the whole community would not have to comply … For other religious employers, the proposal attempts to create a buffer between them and contraception coverage. Female employees would still have free access through insurers or a third party, but the employer would not have to arrange for the coverage or pay for it. Insurers would be reimbursed for any costs by a credit against fees owed the government.”
The Obama birth control compromise stems from fierce disagreement between two sides on the matter of access to and payment for birth control under standard insurance coverage. In most Western countries, religious considerations do not impede a woman’s access to or use of health care benefits to obtain reproductive care, and America is somewhat of an outlier.
Opponents of the law believe that allowing employees to use earned benefits to obtain contraceptives places employers in a spot of funding behavior that conflicts with their religious beliefs. Supporters argue that earned benefits are no longer the domain of the employer, and employees are free to spend their money and benefit packages as they wish if they have worked to earn the compensation.
In a statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said:
“Today, the administration is taking the next step in providing women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns.”
Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, seemed pleased with Obama’s birth control compromise, and said:
“The important thing for us is that women employees can count on getting insurance that meets their needs, even if they’re working for a religiously affiliated employer.”
The Obama birth control compromise and the mandate from which it originally stemmed are set to take effect this summer.