KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Polls Offer Snapshots Of Public Thinking On Birth Control Coverage Rule

Meanwhile, other reports explore whether the U.S. Catholic bishops may be considering a change in strategy regarding their opposition to this policy.

The Wall Street Journal: Birth-Control Rule Debate Intensifying
New polling data are sparking a vigorous debate over whether an Obama administration rule requiring employers to offer free birth control is a political winner for the White House, particularly among women, as many Democrats have assumed (Seib, 3/13).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Birth Control Exemption For Employers With Moral Qualms Supported In Poll
Employers who object on moral or religious grounds should be able to opt out of providing birth control for their employees, a slight majority of Americans told a new CBS News/New York Times poll. Fifty-one percent said that such employers should be able to opt out. According to the same poll, support for the opt-out increased when people were asked specifically whether religiously affiliated employers, like hospitals or universities, should be exempted when they have religious or moral objections (Nolan, 3/13). 

Reuters: Bishops Consider Broader Focus In Birth-Control Fight
Facing small but clear signs of discontent within their own ranks, U.S. Catholic bishops may be poised to rethink their aggressive tactics for fighting a federal mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception, according to sources close to influential bishops. There are no indications that the bishops will drop their fight against the federal mandate. But dozens of bishops, meeting this week in Washington, are likely to discuss concerns that their battle against the Obama administration over birth control risks being viewed by the public as narrow and partisan and thus diminishes the church's moral authority, the sources said (Simon, 3/13).

Kaiser Health News: Timing Of Birth Control Coverage May Differ For Students, Profs
Under the health care overhaul, new health plans (or those that change their benefits enough to lose grandfathered status) have to begin providing free contraceptive services to women in August. Religious institutions, such as churches, are exempt from the requirement, but colleges and hospitals and other employers that are affiliated with religious institutions aren't. …There's a wrinkle in the timing, however. Religiously affiliated institutions have a one-year transition period before they have to be in compliance. Could that mean that students at Georgetown University, a Catholic and Jesuit institution, as well as other religiously affiliated colleges might have to wait until August 2013 for the provision to take effect? (Andrews, 3/13).

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