The White House has announced that as a part of its compromise with religious groups who disagree with a new health care mandate around contraceptives, it will now shift the costs of contraceptives to insurance companies, instead of religious employers as it had initially planned.
"Under the new policy announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works," the White House said in a statement today. Last month the administration announced that religious-affiliated employers had to cover birth control as preventive care for women, and though churches and houses of worship were exempt, other organizations had to comply by 2013.
Planned Parenthood has already announced its support of the compromise. "We believe the compliance mechanism does not compromise a woman’s ability to access these critical birth control benefits," the organization wrote in a statement posted by Talking Points Memo. "However we will be vigilant in holding the administration and the institutions accountable for a rigorous, fair and consistent implementation of the policy, which does not compromise the essential principles of access to care."
It looks like the Catholic Health Association is on board with the compromise as well. "The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions,” Sister Carol Keehan, the organization's president and CEO said in an ABC report. "The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed. We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished."
Update 12:21 p.m.: The president's remarks have concluded. What stuck out to us was, yes, his plan to shift the onus on insurance companies but there were also a couple of instances where Obama peppered in how the controversy was being used by some to create a "political wedge"--something that the president did not take too kindly to.
Update 12:20 p.m.: "Religious organizations will not have to pay for or provide contraceptive services," says Obama. "And women who work at these organizations will not have to pay for these services."
Update 12:15 p.m.: "The overall cost of healthcare is lower when women have access to contraceptives," said President Obama. "No woman's health should depend on who she is, where she works, or how much money she makes."
Update 12:00 p.m.: The president is expected to speak on the compromise at 12:15. and here's the live-stream: