Religious organizations on differing sides of the birth control debate aren't thrilled with a new provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Birth control and other preventative measures will soon be free under new guidelines in the ACA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday. New health plans will need to include services without cost sharing for insurance policies with plan years beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2012.
"The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need."
The guidelines were developed by the Institute of Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization.
The ACA will ensure that women receive several preventative services without charging a co-payment, co-insurance, or a deductible. Services to be provided include well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, lactation counseling, HPV testing, HIV screening and domestic violence counseling.
Mammograms and cervical cancer screening are already covered by the ACA.
Religious organizations that provide health care to their employees will be allowed to opt out of covering contraception services, a move that doesn't thrill certain groups.
Catholics for Choice, an organization that supports the use of birth control, sees this particular provision as a huge step backward for employees of Catholic organizations.
"The vast majority of people, including Catholics, in the U.S. have used a method of family planning banned by the Vatican," the group said. "Sadly for those employed by many Catholic institutions, they will have to pay out of pocket for contraceptive services that others can access at no extra cost. For the latter, this is clearly good news; for the former, state-sanctioned discrimination is the order of the day."
And for other religious organizations, this particular provision is just not enough.
"The new rule will force many Americans to violate their consciences or refrain from participating in health care insurance, further burdening an already costly system," said Jeanne Monahan, Director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity.