Latest H.H.S. Rule Being Studied

The final rules issued on June 28 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implementing its mandate that employers provide coverage of contraceptives “will require more careful analysis,” New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in a statement. The H.H.S. final ruling updates proposed rules the department had issued in February and left open for comment through April. The bishops say the H.H.S. mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, will require most employers, including religious employers, to provide coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services. It includes an exemption for some religious employers that fit its criteria. Cardinal Dolan said that he appreciated the “five-month extension on implementing the complex proposal,” meaning the government extended its “safe harbor” period to Jan. 1, 2014, protecting employers from immediate government action against them if they fail to comply with the mandate. Before the final rules were released, that period was to end on Aug. 1 of this year. -- July 1, 2013

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