Vice President Biden said the Affordable Care Act would not require religious groups to finance coverage of birth control. Here is his statement:
“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear: No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise — including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”
Biden was referring to the so-called contraceptive mandate, which requires insurers to provide coverage for birth control without charging additional co-payments. (The Post’s Fact Checker blog has touched on this issue in two separate columns).
Biden was instrumental in brokering that accommodation in an effort to quell an outcry from Catholic leaders otherwise sympathetic to the Obama administration.
The Obama administration made a decision to fully exempt religious institutions such as churches from this rule. It also said it will exempt religiously affiliated organizations such as Catholic schools and hospitals, but their insurance providers must still cover birth control with no out-of-pocket costs for the insured.
But there are still unsettled issues in this matter, so Biden went a bit far saying it is a fact that they will not pay for contraceptives.
Some church organizations still object to the mandate despite the exemption for religion-affiliated groups, arguing that they could end up paying for birth control indirectly if the mandate causes their health insurance costs to rise. Furthermore, the Obama administration said in March that it will come up with an accommodation for religiously affiliated employers that self-insure, but it has not yet decided how to handle that seven months later.
Rep. Paul Ryan pointed out that the accommodations failed to satisfy many religious groups. “If they agree with you … why would they keep suing you?” he asked.
Here are more details on the lawsuits Ryan was referring to, and the legal arguments involved.
N.C. Aizenman contributed to this report.