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Bishops reject compromise.

WASHINGTON * Although the Obama administration's proposed "accommodation" for religious employers to the mandate that contraceptives and sterilization be included in most health plans "may create an appearance of moderation and compromise," it does not change the administration's fundamental position, attorneys for the U.S. bishops said in comments filed May 15.

"We are convinced that no public good is served by this unprecedented nationwide mandate," said the comments filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 21 pages of comments were in response to the administration's "advance notice of proposed rulemaking" published March 16 in the Federal Register, in which the administration proposed new ways for religious organizations that have moral objections to providing free contraceptives to their employees to comply with the requirement.

Among the administration's suggestions are having the costs covered by a "third-party administrator" of a health plan or "independent agency" that receive funds from other sources, such as rebates from drug makers.

The comments said, "We believe that this mandate is unjust and unlawful--it is bad health policy, and because it entails an element of government coercion against conscience, it creates a religious freedom problem." The comments ask for the mandate's complete rescission.

Before it makes a final decision on the proposed ruling, the Obama administration is seeking public comment until June 19.

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Title Annotation:US BRIEFS
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 25, 2012
Words:221
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