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Amended rules issued for contraception coverage

Friday February 1, 2013
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The Obama administration has issued proposed rules regarding contraceptive coverage with no cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act.

The proposed rules provide women with coverage for preventive care that includes contraceptive services with no copays while also respecting the concerns of certain religious organizations.

Reflecting public feedback received through a previously proposed version of the rule, which was issued last March, the latest proposal is open for public comment through April 8.

"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," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news release. "We will continue to work with faith-based organizations, womenís organizations, insurers and others to achieve these goals."

The proposed rules describe how nonprofit religious organizations, such as nonprofit religious hospitals or institutions of higher education, that object to contraception on religious grounds can receive an accommodation that provides their enrollees separate contraceptive coverage — and with no copays, but at no cost to the religious organization.

"Under the proposed accommodations, the eligible organizations would not have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds," according to an HHS fact sheet.

With respect to insured plans, including student health plans, these religious organizations would provide notice to their insurer. The insurer would notify enrollees that it is providing them with no-cost contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies.

With respect to self-insured plans, including student health plans, these religious organizations would provide notice to their third-party administrator. In turn, the third-party administrator would work with an insurer to arrange no-cost contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies.

Insurers and third-party administrators would work to ensure a seamless enrollment process. The proposed rules lay out how the costs of both the insurer and the third-party administrator would be covered, without any charge to either the religious organization or the enrollees.

Additionally, the proposed rules simplify and clarify the definition of "religious employer" for purposes of the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement. These employers, primarily houses of worship, can exclude contraception coverage from their health plans for their employees.

The official language of the proposed rules is available as a PDF at http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2013-02420_PI.pdf, and a fact sheet is available at http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/factsheets/womens-preven-02012013.html.


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