Meanwhile, women's-rights groups continued to voice support for the guiding principle behind the original provision in the Affordable Care Act.
"This policy delivers on the promise of women having access to birth control without co-pays no matter where they work," Planned Parenthood said in a statement released Friday. "Of course, we are reviewing the technical aspects of this proposal, but the principle is clear and consistent. This policy makes it clear that your boss does not get to decide whether you can have birth control."
Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, noted that, "Our overriding concern is that women have meaningful access to essential preventive health care services, like birth control, without co-pays or deductibles. We look forward to reviewing and commenting on the proposed regulation in detail to ensure that women are able to make personal health decisions without interference by their bosses."
Although no federal dollars will be used to fund the program, the cost to insurers isn't known and the government is seeking comment on costs, Brooks-LaSure said.
For institutions that insure themselves, their third-party administrator would work with an insurance company to provide a separate plan to cover contraceptives, she said.
The rules also clarify the definition of a "religious employer," making it clear who can opt out of contraceptive coverage on such grounds. Primarily, these are churches, other houses of worship and their affiliated organizations, according to Health and Human Services.
In addition, a religious group could be exempt even if it "provides charitable social services to persons of different religious faiths or employs persons of different religious faiths," HHS said.
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