State Capitol News
8:46 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Bill on Contraceptive Coverage Facing Uncertain Future

It does not look like employers in this state are going to be able to use their religious beliefs to deny contraceptive coverage to their workers. 

Current law says any company that provides insurance benefits including prescription coverage to employees cannot exclude contraceptives. There is an exemption for churches and church-operations that mainly hire and serve people of their own faith. Rep. Debbie Lesko got the House to approve legislation letting all employers opt out. But state senators are refusing to go along. On Thursday, Lesko agreed to a compromise to expand that exemption -- but only a little bit.

"So it will be any type of religious employer or organization that also serves people of other faiths or no faith at all," said Lesko.

That picks up Catholic hospitals and charities like St. Vincent de Paul. Sen. Michele Reagan who voted against the original bill said she's willing to go along -- but only after the bill is amended to incorporate the changes.

"I could live with that because those are truly what I consider religious organizations," Reagan said. "However, I'm not going to believe it til I see it. Not that I don't believe them. But the way the bill is now, when it comes up for reconsideration, I'm still a no."

The revisions are expected to be acted on this coming week.