Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofit groups and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while ensuring that those employees still have access to contraception.

Even so, the accommodations may not fully satisfy religious groups who oppose any system that makes them complicit in providing coverage they believe is immoral.

Effective immediately, the United States will start allowing faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals to notify the government — rather than their insurers — that they object to birth control on religious grounds. A previous accommodation offered by the Obama administration allowed those nonprofit organizations to opt out of paying for birth control by submitting a document called Form 700 to their insurers, but Roman Catholic bishops and other religious plaintiffs such as Wheaton College, an evangelical school, argued that just submitting the form was like signing a permission slip to engage in evil.

In a related move, the administration announced plans to allow for-profit corporations, such as Hobby Lobby, to start using Form 700. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies to pay for birth control, sending the administration scrambling for a way to ensure that their employees can still get birth control one way or another at no added cost. In another blow to the Obama administration days later, the justices sided with religious nonprofit organizations, such as Wheaton College, that said that forcing nonprofits to fill out Form 700 to avoid paying for birth control still constituted a violation of their religious freedom.

The dual decisions mark the Obama administration’s latest effort to address a long-running conflict that has pitted the White House against churches and other religious groups. The dispute has sparked dozens of legal challenges, fueling an election-year debate about whether religious liberty should trump a woman’s access to health-care options.

“What these rules do is help ensure that women have access to contraceptive coverage” while respecting religious beliefs, said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

Yet the latest proposals will likely run up against the same objections, because they still enable employees to receive contraception through their health plans — one of a range of preventive services required under President Obama’s health-care law.

“We will be studying the new rule with our clients, but if today’s announcement is just a different way for the government to hijack the health plans of religious ministries, it is unlikely to end the litigation,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The fund has represented Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College.

The new fixes unveiled Friday appear to embrace suggestions included in both of the Supreme Court rulings.

In the Hobby Lobby case, Justice Samuel Alito suggested that one way to address the problem would be to offer the Form 700 accommodation to some for-profit companies. And in the Wheaton case, the court said that while the case is being appealed, Wheaton could temporarily avoid Form 700 by simply sending a letter to the government indicating its objections.

Yet that temporary fix for Wheaton exempted the college from covering contraception altogether. The letters the administration will now allow nonprofit groups to send would trigger a process by which the government will instruct a nonprofit’s insurer or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control, at no cost to the employer. That means that ultimately employees would still get birth control through their employer-provided plans.

The administration’s hope is that the new accommodation will be more palatable because it creates more distance between religious nonprofit organizations and the health services they believe are immoral by inserting the government as a middleman between them and their insurers.

But the Family Research Council, a socially conservative group, dismissed the new accommodation as an “insulting accounting gimmick” that still leaves businesses and nonprofit groups complicit in something they view as immoral.

To opt out of paying for contraceptives without using Form 700, religious nonprofit groups can send a letter to the Health and Human Services Department that includes the organization’s name, the type of health plan they offer and the name and contact information for their insurance issuers or third-party administrators, officials said. Groups must also explain which types of birth control they object to and state that the objection is based on sincerely held beliefs.

The administration’s proposal to let companies use Form 700 will apply only to “closely held” corporations that are owned by families or a small number of investors. The government is asking for the public’s input about how narrowly to define a “closely held” corporation, meaning the rule-making process will drag out for months before the fix is finalized.

— Associated Press