Washington, D.C. — Today Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden issued the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s decision to maintain a narrow exemption for religious employers in a regulation requiring no-cost contraceptive coverage:
The administration’s decision is a tremendous victory for both women’s health and their basic health needs. Women of all religious backgrounds use birth control and they deserve to have it covered by their employer-sponsored health plans. This rule allows women to decide for themselves what is best for their health needs and for their own conscience.
Employers—including most religiously affiliated institutions—are already required to cover contraception in their health plans in 28 states. The only difference with this rule is that plans must now cover the full cost.
An expanded religious exemption would have created an unreasonably large loophole that would have kept the benefits of family planning beyond the reach of millions of women. Women of all beliefs work at religious institutions like hospitals. In maintaining a narrow religious exemption for contraceptive coverage, the Obama administration stayed true to the purpose of the Affordable Care Act, which is to expand access to insurance coverage and vital health services for everyone who needs them.
Religiously-affiliated employers who do not qualify for the exemption and are not currently offering contraceptive coverage may apply for transitional relief for a one-year period to give them time to determine how to comply with this rule.
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