President Barack Obama’s original campaign slogan, “Change We Can Believe In” took effect Friday, February 10, 2012. Regardless of the fact that it was a change to his own policy, after careful collaboration, Obama tweaked the newest provision of the Affordable Care Act. Now, insurance companies will provide contraceptive benefits directly to employees. This will leave employers out of the transaction, which was a move that was praised by both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association.
The Catholic Church became upset with the Obama Administration in January 2011 because of the Affordable Care Act’s provision. The newest provision stated that employers everywhere must cover contraception. This caused an upset in the Catholic Church because the use of contraceptives violates its beliefs and teachings.
“If we pay for those services for people who work for us, we are in effect saying don’t do it, but then giving the money to pay for it,” Bishop David Ricken told CNN.
President Obama, in his effort to appeal to his own political party and independent voters, felt the impact of the newest contraceptive provision on his political edge when his support from independent voters dropped. From the beginning, the Obama Administration promised that its strong partnership with religious organizations would remain, despite the upset.
“The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue,” according to “The White House Blog.”
But tension grew as the Catholic Church made an announcement to “engage in Catholic Action” with a time of prayer and fasting. The U.S. bishops went so far as to negotiate an exception for faith-based employers, including Catholic hospitals, charities and colleges. At first, the government’s response was to give faith-based employers until August 2012 to obey or suffer the consequences. This lead to the decision that religious affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage under the newest provision of the Affordable Care Act.
This portion of the Affordable Care Act is the expansion of coverage for women’s preventive care. As of last summer, a government study found that birth control use is nearly universal in the United States. In 2009, alone, 90 million prescriptions for contraceptives were dispensed, and still about half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
“Preventing unwanted pregnancies is only one goal of the new requirement. Contraception can help make a woman’s next pregnancy healthier…Research has shown that even modest co-pays for medical care can discourage use” said Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press.
The coverage of women’s preventative services without co-pays will begin in August 2012. For more information regarding the Affordable Care Act, students can visit www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform. For more information on the stance of the Catholic Church please visit www.catholic.org.