BY NANCY FRAZIER OʼBRIEN IN WASHINGTON DC A US CARDINAL has criticised new government regulations compelling health insurance providers to give women contraceptives free.
The Department of Health and Human Services’proposed “religious exemption” to the requirement that all health insurance plans cover contraceptives and sterilisation for women is “so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and health care providers”, said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on pro-life activities.
He criticised the announcement on Monday by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that she had accepted the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine on eight “preventive services” that must be included in any health plan under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
One of the mandated services is coverage of “all Food and DrugAdministration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilisation procedures, and patient education and counselling for all women with reproductive capacity”.
Miss Sebelius also said she would “give religious organisations the choice of buying or sponsoring group health insurance that does not cover contraception if that is inconsistent with their tenets”.