Catholic bishops: No 'grand bargain' on contraceptives yet

Religion and BeliefAffordable Care Act (Obamacare)Archdiocese of WashingtonJoe Biden

Commentator John Gehring asserts that Catholic hospitals and universities would not have to pay for birth control coverage for their employees under an accommodation with the Obama administration that requires insurance companies to pick up the tab ("Finding common ground," Nov. 12). This is not true.

Neither the Affordable Care Act nor the finalized implementing regulations contain any such provision. Rather, that arrangement is discussed in the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published by the Department of Health and Human Services in March, which is not law.

It is true that the president held a press conference to announce the proposed compromise, commonly referred to as the "accommodation." But it was never formally enacted into law.

The question of whether the publication of the proposed compromise constitutes sufficient grounds for dismissing religious employers' lawsuits as unripe is being litigated. But even the federal government concedes that the accommodation is not law and does not amend the Affordable Care Act or its accompanying regulations.

The Archdiocese of Washington is a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits challenging the mandate. For reasons unknown to us, the accommodation has been portrayed by many in the media and by the Obama administration — most notably by Vice President Joe Biden in his pre-election debate — as having solved the problem, when in fact it was never even implemented.

Mr. Gehring's article misstates the facts and should be corrected.

Jane Belford, Washington

The writer is chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Religion and BeliefAffordable Care Act (Obamacare)Archdiocese of WashingtonJoe Biden
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