Catholic hospitals approve contraceptive coverage compromise

In what could help end the dispute over contraceptive coverage, the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) said it can implement the Obama administration's relaxed rules, the Associated Press reported.

Under the final rule issued June 28, religious-affiliated companies don't have to directly pay for contraception coverage, but their workers can still receive such coverage through a separate health plan provided by the insurance company at no cost.

The Catholic hospitals said the final rule has eliminated its concerns about the definition of "religious employer" and will enable member hospitals to continue offering employees health insurance without including services to which they morally objected, according to a statement.

"We are pleased that our members now have an accommodation that will not require them to contract, provide, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage," CHA said in the statement.

However, the Catholic hospitals noted the Obama administration's compromise didn't please all religious groups, particularly the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Catholic Bishops maintain their opposition to the proposal, the AP noted, suing to overturn the entire contraceptive coverage requirement. They are joined by the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents Protestant churches, in rejecting the compromise.

The dispute may gain new life as legal experts expect lawsuits against the reform law's contraception mandate to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

For more:
- here's the CHA statement
- read the AP article