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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: US Confirms Contraception Without Co-Pay Rule

January 23, 2012
Agence France Presse (01.20.12) - Monday, January 23, 2012

Under a federal rule announced Friday, most health insurance plans will be required by Aug. 1 to cover preventive services for women, including contraception, without a co-pay, co- insurance or deductible. Services include Food and Drug Administration-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling, annual check-ups, STD counseling, HIV screening and counseling, human papillomavirus testing for women age 30 and older, and testing for gestational diabetes.

An exemption on contraceptive coverage for directly religious institutions such as churches was maintained in the final rule announced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Certain religious-affiliated nonprofit institutions - such as colleges and hospitals - were not exempted but were given an additional year, until Aug. 1, 2013, to comply.

"This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services." The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized the decision, saying it forces some people to act against their beliefs. The Obama administration "ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion- inducing drugs, in their health plans," said Cardinal- designate Timothy Dolan. "Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience."