Healthcare News February 10, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Birth-control mandate dominates news cycle

    It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the battle over access to contraception continued to dominate the healthcare world Thursday.

    The controversial mandate, which requires some religious organizations to cover contraception in their employees’ healthcare plans even if they oppose it, has energized Republicans at every level: three state attorneys general said Thursday evening that they’re prepared to challenge the policy in court if the White House doesn’t withdraw it immediately, and blasted the policy as “unprecedented coercion” of religious beliefs. Healthwatch has the story on the state officials’ threat.

    The contraception policy has also been a boon to GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who framed the issue as a threat to religious freedom and drew a connection to the French Revolution. Social issues were already Santorum’s wheelhouse, and now they’re front and center once again as he tries to capitalize on victories in three non-binding caucuses.

  • State AGs threaten to sue over birth-control mandate

    Three state attorneys general say they’ll sue the Obama administration over its controversial birth-control mandate unless the White House backs down on its own.

    “Not only is the proposed contraceptive coverage mandate for religious employers bad policy, it is unconstitutional,” the attorneys general said in a letter to top administration officials Thursday. “It conflicts with the most basic elements of the freedoms of religion, speech and association, as provided under the First Amendment.”

  • Romney predicts Obama will back down on birth-control rule

    He said either the Supreme Court or the next election will force the White House to retreat on the rule.

  • Bill Nelson splits with White House on scope of contraception rule

    Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is the latest Democrat to split with the White House over its policy requiring some religious institutions to cover birth control for their employees.

    Nelson, who’s facing a potentially tough reelection fight this fall, told the Tampa Bay Times that exemptions from the contraception mandate should go beyond churches. The White House is under increasing pressure to exclude institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities from its new policy.

    “My position is that church affiliated organizations should be exempt, not just churches,” Nelson told the newspaper.

    His position mirrors the stance many Democrats have taken — supportive of the general requirement that insurers cover contraception without charging a copay but critical of a religious exemption that only applies to churches and other places of worship.

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