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Obama offers compromise on birth control health coverage

Published on Feb 2, 2013 6:49 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Obama administration on Friday sought to settle a dispute with some religious leaders over the inclusion of contraceptives in employees' health insurance plans by proposing to separate birth control from other benefits.

The approach offers religious employers a way to avoid paying for women's contraceptives through employer-provided health insurance, while still guaranteeing their workers access to birth control coverage with no out-of-pocket costs as called for in President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.

It follows months of protest and legal action by groups representing Roman Catholics, Protestant evangelicals and private employers, who argued that the 2010 healthcare law forced them to violate their religious tenets against contraception.

For more than a year, the Obama administration has grappled with how to balance its desire to guarantee universal, free contraceptive coverage with religious freedoms provided in the United States (US) Constitution.

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