The Catholic Health Association, which incurred the wrath of U.S. bishops by supporting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, is now formally opposing a regulation in the law that forces Catholic hospitals to indirectly provide birth control to employees. The CHA hedged in February when the Obama administration announced what it called a compromise in the rule that requires Catholic hospitals' insurers, and not the hospitals themselves, to provide contraceptive drugs and services that are forbidden by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Late News: CHA opposes reform law's birth-control rule
But in a public comment letter June 15, CHA President and CEO Sister Carol Keehan and two other CHA officials said a detailed review of the rule has led them to conclude that the compromise does not address their concerns. Rather, the hospital association said the best way to resolve the issue—including possible questions about the rule's constitutionality—would be to expand the definition of religious employers who are exempt from the requirement. The rule only exempts houses of worship, and not Catholic hospitals, universities or social service agencies. The Conference of Catholic Bishops has adopted a similar stance in public comments, and its president,
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, has praised a series of 12 federal lawsuits filed by Catholic diocese challenging the rule's legality. The rule, which was developed to implement a preventive services requirement in the reform law, requires most employers to provide women's birth control services without a copayment. It goes into effect in August for most employers, although religiously affiliated organizations may apply for a one-year extension, until August 2013.
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