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February 07, 2013

Bishops criticize Obama administration for birth control requirement

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement Thursday that it is not satisfied with President Obama's revised policy that state religious institutions would no longer be required to provide their employees with health insurance coverage for birth control.

"Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage," said group president Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. "We remain eager for the administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions-we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks."

Nonprofit organizations that had objected to the mandate on moral grounds, including hospitals and universities, would be able to offer plans that don’t cover contraceptives, while their employees could enroll in separate insurance policies that would cover free birth control.

The contraceptives’ cost would be paid for through long-term health benefits of preventative coverage and fees insurers pay to participate in the health exchanges set up as part of the federal health care law passed in 2010, according to administration officials.

The bishops said the change was an improvement, but still falls short. 

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