White House Signals Willingness to Compromise On Contraception Controversy
White House officials tell ABC News that they are open to exploring a possible compromise - if one exists - that would ensure that women have health insurance that fully covers contraception while also allaying concerns of religious organizations that oppose birth control.
"This is just the beginning of that discussion," says one official, noting that the rule begins to take effect in August 2012, and is followed by a full year before compliance is required.
How would that happen?
There is a lot of chatter in the administration about "the Hawaii Model," raised perhaps most prominently by the former chair of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Melissa Rogers, who wrote in The Washington Post last October that Hawaii:
"appears to have taken some noteworthy steps to ensure that employees of objecting religious organizations may readily gain access to affordable coverage of contraceptives. Under Hawaii law, religious employers that decline to cover contraceptives must provide written notification to enrollees disclosing that fact and describing alternate ways for enrollees to access coverage for contraceptive services. Hawaii law also requires health insurers to allow enrollees in a health plan of an objecting religious employer to purchase coverage of contraceptive services directly and to do so at a cost that does not exceed 'the enrollee's pro rata share of the price the group purchaser would have paid for such coverage had the group plan not invoked a religious exemption.'"
Obama administration officials say that insurance company officials say it's actually cheaper to provide women with birth control than not - because of unintended pregnancies and complications. Meaning: insurance companies may want to help find a compromise here because it can help their bottom line.
In economics there may be a solution.