Catholic Hospitals Push Back on Birth-Control Provision

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Heightening an election-year debate on the confluence of faith and health care, the nation's Catholic hospitals today rejected the Obama administration's compromise for providing birth-control coverage to female employees.

The Catholic Health Association said that it didn't believe church-affiliated employers should have to provide birth control as a free preventive service, as the Affordable Care Act now requires. Ironically, the same faith-based association was a key ally in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The Associated Press reports that the hospital group sent a letter to the federal Health and Human Services department, saying the compromise initially seemed to be "a good first step" but that examination of the details proved disappointing. The plan would be "unduly cumbersome" to carry out and "unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns" of all its members, the group said.

The AP reported that in its letter, the group said the government should either broaden the exemption for religious employers, or pay directly for the birth control coverage.

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