Larson, Lieberman Want Feds To Change Course On Coverage For Contraception

Feb 9, 2012

As national Republicans continue to hammer President Obama over a decision concerning birth control, Connecticut's congressional delegation is split on the issue.  WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports. The Obama administration recently released a new rule based on the recommendations of an independent medical panel.  It won't apply to churches and their employees, but it will eventually apply to religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, and charities.  And it will mean that most health insurance plans will have to cover contraceptive services for women at no extra cost -- a provision national and local Catholics vehemently oppose. Some state Democrats have supported the move.  Here's Senator Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday: "We stand strongly with the president." But not everyone does.

The state's highest ranking house Democrat, Congressman John Larson, wants the administration to reconsider. In a letter to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Larson said he supports contraceptive coverage for all women -- but he doesn't think religiously-affiliated institutions should have to offer it.  


Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman used Twitter to say that government shouldn't compel religious organizations to provide services contrary to their beliefs. But Congresswoman Rosa Delauro said she supports the president's mandate. Here she is on MSNBC on Wednesday. "As an employer, they are obligated to offer insurance and insurance coverage to their employees to give them the opportunity to be able to access these critical healthcare services for women." In an interview with WNPR, Congressman Chris Murphy said women should have access to a range of reproductive services -- regardless of where they work. "When you're talking about Catholic hospitals or Catholic universities, you're talking about place with thousands of employees that take millions of dollars in public money.  I just think as a matter of fairness we should apply this standard to those institutions." Meanwhile, the Obama administration said Tuesday that it is looking for some sort of compromise.   

This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes WNPR, NPR, and Kaiser Health News. Support comes from the Connecticut Health Foundation.