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More Spelunking on Contraception

(photo: Ðariusz/flickr)

The Obama administration continues its caving to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, and seeks input on ways in which to continue its spelunking in the future. From the National Catholic Reporter:

Coming after a month of continued opposition from the U.S. bishops to the mandate, which was first revised in early February to exempt certain religious organizations, today’s announced changes from the Department of Health and Human Services make a number of concessions, including allowing religious organizations that self-insure to be made exempt.

Also raised is the possibility that the definition given for religious employers in the original mandate could be changed.

HHS did not announce final rules, but put forward a 32 page proposal for comment [pdf] on religious organizations and their obligation (or lack thereof) to provide coverage for “certain preventive services.”

That “self insurance” loophole is a huge exemption. Look for any Roman Catholic institutions that aren’t self-insured already to set themselves up that way in short order.

If you wish to take HHS up on their offer to listen to comments on this proposal, page 3 of the pdf has four ways to submit your thoughts. The first is electronically, via They say to “follow the instructions under the ‘More Search Options’ tab.” Unfortunately, is down for maintenance today. (You’ll probably need the file code: CMS-9968-ANPRM.)

But wait! There’s more from HHS on contraception. Again from NCR:

News of the changes also came as a separate ruling on student health insurance coverage was announced by the Department of Health and Human Services this afternoon. Under that ruling, health care plans for students would be treated like those of employees of colleges and universities — meaning the colleges will have to provide contraceptive services to students without co-pay.

Religiously affiliated colleges and universities, however, would be shielded from this ruling, according to a statement from the HHS.

Sandra Fluke and her classmates at Georgetown — a Roman Catholic institution — continue to be out of luck, it seems. Unlike the first announcement, this is a “final rule” [pdf] and not a proposal.

But they can look on the bright side. At least HHS didn’t call them sluts when they said “pay for your own contraceptives!”

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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