KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Mich. Attorney General To Sue Adminstration On Birth Control Rule

While officials at some hospitals and universities expressed support for Obama administration's compromise last week, other religious and governmental leaders remained unsatisfied, according to media reports. 

Detroit Free Press: Michigan To Take Lead In Lawsuits Against Obama's Birth Control Mandate In Health Care Plans
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said the state will take a lead effort in lawsuits against the Obama administration's mandate that most employers must include birth control coverage in their health plans. Saying that religious liberty is under attack, Schuette announced Thursday plans to make Michigan the lead state in filing briefs in support of lawsuits filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group that leans conservative and fights for religious rights (Warikoo, 2/10).

The Texas Tribune: In Texas, Reactions to Birth Control Compromise Mixed
Seton Healthcare Family, a major nonprofit Texas hospital system that provides health care to 1.8 million people, and had been vocally opposed to the original rule, expressed initial support for the compromise. ... “[The Texas Association of Business] has never taken a position on pro-life and pro-choice issues, but we do take a position against health insurance mandates,” said Texas Association of Business President and CEO Bill (Heinrich, 2/10). 

Des Moines Register: Obama Insurance Change Doesn't Satisfy Catholics
"The government can’t be about engineering who we are and what we are going to believe,” said [Des Moines Catholic Bishop Richard Pates] ... But Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said ... "We can’t as a nation be in the position of having a single religious perspective dictate public policy," said Terrell, who supports the administration’s mandate. Andy McGuire, the president of Meridian Health Plan and a one-time Democratic candidate for Iowa lieutenant governor, said she’s sympathetic to Terrell’s assessment, despite being a practicing Catholic (Erzen, 2/10).

Denver Post: Obama Broadens Exemption For Religious Groups, But Keeps Contraception Option For Their Employees
The arguments are more than an abstraction in Colorado, where Catholic-based organizations employ thousands of people from many faiths, at hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions. Centura Health operates one of the largest hospital systems in the state, as a partnership between Catholic Health Initiatives and the Adventist hospital system. Centura has nearly 6,000 employees covered by its health plan. In 2010, Colorado lawmakers mandated contraception coverage in many insurance plans in the state, but that law does not cover self-insured plans like Centura's (Draper and Booth, 2/10).

The Seattle Times: No Big Changes Likely For Catholic Institutions Here
By most accounts, Obama's compromise policy, which could force commercial-insurance companies to bear some new costs, likely will bring little change to Catholic institutions in the state. For example, at Seattle University, a Jesuit Catholic university, two employee plans and student plans already include oral-contraceptive coverage "consistent with state law," said Gerald Huffman, vice president for human resources and university services. ... [there is] a state regulation requiring all insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to also cover contraceptives (Ostrom, 2/10).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Gov. Bobby Jindal Says Obama Birth Control Dispute Exposed 'Inherent Flaw In Obamacare'
Jindal said the "bigger issue" was the way in which the health care law had given the government the power to make decisions that "really ought to be made by doctors and their patients." He added that it would distort the workings of the health care market (Tilove, 2/11). 

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