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U.S. Proposes Compromise on Contraceptive Coverage

The Obama administration laid out its blueprint for providing contraceptive coverage for employees at nonprofit religious organizations on Friday, proposing rules that would contain benefits within separate individual insurance plans without cost to the employer.

(.)

WASHINGTON, Feb 1 The Obama administration laid out its blueprint for providing contraceptive coverage for employees at nonprofit religious organizations on Friday, proposing rules that would contain benefits within separate individual insurance plans without cost to the employer.

The new rules, which would be used to implement one of the most controversial provisions of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, follow months of protest and legal action by the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant evangelicals and others groups who oppose the measure as a violation of religious liberty.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that the rules offer religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and charities opposed to contraceptives coverage with "an accommodation" that would allow employees and students to enroll in separate contraceptive coverage plans without copays and without cost to the employer.

Self-insured employers would provide notice to a third-party administrator that would then work with an insurer to arrange no-cost contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies, HHS said.

The proposed rules, published in the Federal Register, are open for public comment through April 8.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

Copyright 2010 by Reuters. All rights reserved.

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