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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kathleen's Pregnant Pause

“I’m not sure that is going to work,” commented House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton.

Fellow committee member Rep. Phil Gingrey chuckled later as he asked out loud “So, what is she talking about? Here’s the bill, pay it – that’s what they do.”

These pointed comments were prompted in response to testimony delivered by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a March 1 committee hearing on the Administration’s evolving policy on health plan contraceptive coverage requirements for religious institutions.

Ms. Sebelius began her testimony by explaining that organizations affiliated with religious institutions would not have to cover contraceptives if they objected on grounds of conscience.
Instead, insurers would be required to offer birth control free of charge to the employees of those organizations.

So what about self-insured religious organizations (of which there are many)?

After pausing to consider the question, Secretary Sebelius replied that the organizations’ third party administrators might be enlisted to provide contraceptive coverage.

Of course, TPAs are not insurance entities and therefore by definition cannot provide “coverage” for anything. Same issue for ASO providers event though they are connected to insurance entities. These are inconvenient facts to be sure.

But not to worry, as Secretary Sebelius reassured everyone that the department would reach out and “have dialogue with folks”before proposing a rule in the near future.

Perhaps there should have been some “folks” in the room when this health care reform plan was hatched in the first place.

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