Written by Don Byrd

Wednesday, 08 February 2012

There’s been at least hints of compromise on the part of the White House regarding the Administration’s decision to require religious schools and hospitals with diverse employment to provide contraception coverage in their health care plans, just like all other employers. This story is showing no signs of going away, and the rhetoric on both sides is bending more toward escalation than toward resolution.

So it is nice to read a potential solution through the arguments in a piece by Melissa Rogers, who looks to the law of some other states that already deal with this issue sensibly.

Under Hawaii law, religious employers that decline to cover contraceptives must provide written notification to enrollees disclosing that fact and describing alternate ways for enrollees to access coverage for contraceptive services. Hawaii law also requires health insurers to allow enrollees in a health plan of an objecting religious employer to purchase coverage of contraceptive services directly and to do so at a cost that does not exceed “the enrollee’s pro rata share of the price the group purchaser would have paid for such coverage had the group plan not invoked a religious exemption.” A New York law has similar provisions.
A multi-dimensional approach to accommodating interests, like the Hawaii and New York solution she describes, would provide low-cost coverage for employees of religious organizations that want it, while respecting the desire of the employer not to pay for such coverage on religious grounds. Kudos to Melissa – former Baptist Joint Committee Counsel – for trying to bring a solution to this debate. Read the whole thing.