The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 1, 2013

Obama offers faith groups new birth control rule

(Continued)

Obama had promised to change the birth control requirement so insurance companies — and not faith-affiliated employers — would pay for the coverage, but religious leaders said more changes were needed to make the plan work.

Since then, more than 40 lawsuits have been filed by religious nonprofits and secular for-profit businesses contending the mandate violates their religious beliefs. As expected, this latest regulation does not provide any accommodation for individual business owners who have religious objections to the rule.

Questions remain about how the services ultimately will be funded. The Health and Human Services Department has not tallied an overall cost for the plan, according to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, an HHS deputy policy director.

However, in its new version of the rule, the department argues that the change won't impose new costs on insurers because it will save them money "from improvements in women's health and fewer child births."

The latest version of the mandate is now subject to a 60-day public comment period. The overall mandate is to take effect for religious nonprofits in August.

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