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In Texas, Reactions to Birth Control Compromise Mixed

President Obama's compromise on religiously affiliated employers and insurance coverage for birth control is sparking criticism in Texas — just like his administration's original rule.

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In Texas, reactions to a new federal rule requiring many employers — including religiously affiliated hospitals and universities — to provide contraception coverage in employee health plans were vehement, and mixed. 

A compromise President Obama offered Friday that allows religious organizations, not just churches, to opt out of the contraception coverage requirement has yielded a similar response. The most controversial element? It requires third-party health insurers to provide birth control for women who elect not to join their employer’s health plan.  

Seton Healthcare Family, a major nonprofit Texas hospital system that provides health care to 1.8 million people, and had been vocally opposed to the original rule, expressed initial support for the compromise.

“The Seton Healthcare Family is pleased with the direction of the dialogue between the Catholic Health Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding preventive services coverage for employees,” said Adrienne Lallo, the system’s communications director.

But a major Texas business group has already spoken out against the arrangement.

“[The Texas Association of Business] has never taken a position on pro-life and pro-choice issues, but we do take a position against health insurance mandates,” said Texas Association of Business President and CEO Bill Hammond. “State and federal governments’ mandates on health insurance policies, of any kind, simply drive up the cost of health insurance.”

Obama’s compromise has been met with tentative approval by leaders of national organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Catholic Health Association, although some Catholic bishops still oppose the rule. 

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