Lew defends new contraception policy
February 12th, 2012
08:59 AM ET
11 years ago

Lew defends new contraception policy

(CNN) – White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew stood by the administration’s recent policy change on contraception coverage Sunday, arguing the new plan ensures women can keep their “right to preventive care” while religious institutions can respect their principles.

“This was a challenge to reconcile two important principles, and the president found a way to reconcile those,” Lew said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There are others who don’t have the same objective, and they have to speak for themselves.”

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Under the new proposal, institutions with religious affiliations, such as hospitals and universities, will not be required to include contraception in their health insurance plans. Instead, insurers will now be forced to directly offer coverage at no cost to women employed by the institutions.

President Barack Obama announced the compromise on Friday, following a firestorm of criticism over the original rule put forward by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The policy was met with opposition from religious circles—particularly Catholics, whose teaching bans contraception—as well as fierce resistance from some members of Congress and Republican presidential candidates.

While churches would have been exempt from the rule, religious institutions would have been forced to cover contraception beginning next year.

Pressed on whether insurance companies will actually comply with the new standards and offer free contraception provisions, Lew said the rule will hardly make a dent in insurers’ pockets

“As somebody who has done budgets for a lot of years, usually when people say to me that something doesn’t cost a lot of money, I ask them how could that be? This is the exception to the rule,” Lew told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

He went on to explain that when pricing two insurance plans—one with contraception, one without—the plan without contraception costs more than the one with it, as “the total cost of care for a person is higher” without the form of birth control.

“So this will not cost the insurance companies money. It will not put religious institutions in a place where they have to violate their principles,” he said. “I actually think there won’t be as much resistance to this from insurance companies as people might think.”

The plan has received mixed reviews among Catholics. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced the new proposal on Friday, saying it “continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions.”

However, other Catholic groups called the Obama compromise an acceptable solution, including the Catholic Health Association, the University of Notre Dame, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and Catholic Charities USA.

Lew argued the policy does not put such religious organizations in a position of paying for or facilitating a provision that goes against their faith.

“We’ve put out a plan that reflects where the president intended to go,” Lew said.

Asked if there was room for compromise moving forward, Lew insisted the White House was satisfied with the recent change.

“This is our plan,” he said.

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Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Faith • Health care • Jacob Lew • President Obama • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. page

    "this is our plan" . . . the Obama team is smart, offer the first plan knowing the crazy conservatives would over-react, then settle on a plan that satisfies most of those same conservatives. The ones left complaining about violations of their religious freedom just look rediculous.

    February 12, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. sara

    Do these bishops realize that contraception is used for other vital medical needs? I worked for CC in Chicago and I had BC/BS of Illinois and it worked great. In 2002, I had fibroid tumors in my filopian tubes and B/C was prescribed to stop me from bleeding to death. Personally, this is political and why isn't the Catholic bishops advocating for "catholic" only employees in "their" hospitals and other organization.

    February 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. sara

    page....I really don't think this was political in the beginning considering 28 States has the same rule in place already. What I think is NOW the bishops are playing politics with women's health. They said, as if they are doctors, that pregnacy is not a disease. They don't have a clue that contraceptions are often prescribed for other dire medical needs. Read my previous comment as to my past experience and I don't think I'm the only one.

    February 12, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. a in austin

    Why is religious freedom always tied to womens rights? My freedoms do not include bowing to the Catholic Bishops.

    February 12, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Como

    So sad that the commentors do not see Obama lying a year ago to the Bishops then stomping on their religious rights with this "contraceptiion" ruling. Seperation of Church and State is s one way street for Obama, his way. So sad you lefties are so quiick to back OWS and so ignorant of all individual rights.

    February 12, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    We ain't going to bow down to radical catholic bishops. They are as nutty as the teavangelicals.

    February 12, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    It is so sad to see the lying right wingnuts try to come up with something to embarrass the president. It is sad to see that foreign owned media, Fox, can keep fueling your hate and ignorance.

    February 12, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    Can we move on from this topic we have lot do
    Unemployment still 8,3% ,in Syria government killing 100s of people everyday

    February 12, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. FIELD1stSGT

    The thing to do is just sterilize Obama's supporters and you can eliminate, food stamps, illegitimate children, children being raised by Auntie and most of all taxpayer's dollars for welfare.

    February 12, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Another phony social issue with no traction that the GOBP deathcult is using to try and divert attention from its flaccid field of failed clown car candidates. The vast majority of Americans support the President on this, and only the extreme right wing radicals think this is a big deal. Too bad they aren't devoting their "pro-Catholic" feelings towards pushing the church to better deal with its pedophile priests. The Catholic bishops would also do well to focus their efforts in that direction instead of lobbying for something favored by the vast majority of Americans. The Catholic Church should also lose its tax exempt status after its blatant efforts to inject itself into politics.

    February 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    FIELD – Are you sure you are an American? You really sound like the spokesperson for the Nazi party.

    February 12, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Connie

    Lack of birth control is the cause of illegitimate children!

    February 12, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. pink haze

    Gee, wouldn't it have beee nice to have seen these same bishops reacting with such hate and revenge over their own molesting and hurting young children. Not a peep.! Not once did I hear any noise from these guys about that. They just swept it under the rug. Hardly a sound out of their collective mouths. And by the way, there are many other religions in America, not just Catholic.

    February 12, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Four and The Door

    Classic Obama non-solution to a problem. Mandate private companies to give products ( contraceptive insurance coverage is a product ) for free. This is purely a political folly dreamed up by a political hack. America is better than that.

    February 12, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Puddin

    Would everyone just look at who is trying to take control of what women do with THEIR bodies.........MEN........oink, oink!! Do these (immoral) bishops actually think that Catholic women are not practicing birth control? What imbeciles! They should worry about their own moral character before being concerned about anyone else's moral character. The only couple I've observed who don't practice birth control are the Duggers with twenty children (last count), and I figure they are either "obedient" to the dictates of the bishops or are using these children to make a living for themselves. I can't see how one set of parents can give that many children all the attention they need. I can attest to that because I am the youngest of thirteen children, and know how bad it feels to be so neglected.

    February 12, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Namejkane fl

    Who cares what a bunch of old men in dresses say anyway!!!!

    February 12, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Anonymous

    well we see what kind of biggot field 1st sarg is . I guess that is typical of the repos . The repos will try and keep this going but they will find that women will get fed up with them and do a planed parenthood turn agound. They need to move on. The church should do the same. Repos are finding it harder to come up with negitive things to say about the presidents policys so they will milk this for all it is worth. OL rick who doesn't think woman should have any rights will use this as long as he can. And mitt needs to be careful because he has argued both sides of this issue. Flip Flop. Why arent they talking about jobs and taxes ??

    February 12, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    That policy is indefensible, wasteful, and stupid!

    People that can afford to pay for contraception, should pay for it. the government has to stop giving away stuff to people who can afford to buy it!

    Only those earning under $20K, per year, should get free stuff, period!

    February 12, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    The Roman Catholic leadership is out of touch with their members. An overwhelming majority of their parishoners use or support the use of contraceptives.

    February 12, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. Gloria Griffin

    I am a CAtholic woman. I do not believe a religion, government, political party or organization to dictate to me whether I can control the size of my family or what I can do with my body. It is not a moral sin to prevent an unwanted pregnancy it is however morally wrong for an unwanted child to endure hardship. The Catholic church does not speak for me. My grandmother was forced to have 11 children and my father grew up very poor and one child died from malnu

    February 12, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. frank burns

    Let the bishops worry a little about the longstanding problem of pedophilia by priests, which they continue to overlook and shove under the carpet. Their worrying whether their women employees will use their insurance for birth control or not is beyond the pale. Do they also worry how their employees spend the cash portion of their pay packages? How hypocritical can you get. Throughout history, the Catholic church has never ceased to amaze for its hypocrisy and immorality. This compromise is fair. The bishops were given a yard, and they want not a mile, but the whole road. Let them whine and bemoan if they like, but reasonable people should pay them no heed. They have every religious freedom they could ask for. This is just a matter of whether their employees CAN have insurance, even when the bishops don't pay for it. They are being outrageous to imagine they can object to that.

    February 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Jack_of_Arts

    @FIELD1stSGT Then can we can start with you, and then the 90% of the sheep that currently makes up for what humanity has now become in this country?

    February 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Four and The Door

    Would everyone just look at who is trying to take control of what women do with THEIR bodies.........MEN........oink, oink!! Do these (immoral) bishops actually think that Catholic women are not practicing birth control? What imbeciles! They should worry about their own moral character before being concerned about anyone else's moral character.
    Sorry Puddin, but that's not the point. In fact I agree that practicing birth control is responsible. It's still not the point.
    Catholic bishops are allowed to have their moral convictions and we do not all have to agree with them. The US government should not mandate them to pay for something that very clearly is against their moral convictions. But then mandating for private companies to provide products for free who work for Catholic or other religious organizations seems to me that the government is thumbing their noses up at these bishops and other religious people. This is awkward and absurd. Only the Obama Administration could come up with this one and call it an answer.

    February 12, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. don in albuquerque

    The church may have fired the proverbial shot too the foot with the help of the GOP. People are waking up and asking "Why just tax th 1%? The church has been selling dreams for hundreds of years, collecting, and giving nothing in return. Except things like Salem, The Inquisition, and the Crusades. They want to steer govt., FINE. Pay taxes for it.

    February 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |