Friday, February 1, 2013
Pretty much the same proposals as the administration had brought up before, with tweaks. The proposed rule would eliminate the offensive language explicitly excluding employers from the definition of "religiious employer" if they serve or employ people outside the faith. But it doesn't change the reality much, because it retains the criterion that the employer fall within IRS rules as a church, integrated auxiliary of a church, part of an association of churches, or religious order. So soup kitchens run by churches are now within the exemption, but not independent faith-based soup kitchens, or Catholic Charities or Catholic hospitals. They are covered by the "accommodation" the administration is proposing, to have the insurer pay for contraception without, according to the administration, shifting any cost to the employer and without requiring employer referral or including contraception in the employer insurance contract. That proposal, of course, has satisfied some people concerned about nonprofits' religious liberty but has failed to satisfy others. And the proposed rule reaffirms that for-profit entities are not accommodated at all.