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  • HHS Proposes Exemptions From Contraceptive Services Guidelines for Group Health Plans of Certain Religious Employers

    Certain religious employers could be exempt from covering contraceptive services in their group health plans under a revision that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released on August 3 to its interim final rule on coverage of preventive services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the interim rule http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-17242.pdf on July 19, in conjunction with the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury.

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and amendments, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifies that a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage provide benefits for, and prohibit the imposition of cost-sharing with respect to, certain preventive services. These services include such treatments as certain routine immunizations; evidence-performed preventive care and screenings for infants, children, and adolescents; and preventive screening and care for women under the Health Resources and Service Administration’s (HRSA) Women’s Preventive Services: Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines. The guidelines provide for coverage of conception prevention services.

    The revision released August 3 gives HRSA additional discretion to exempt certain religious employers from the guidelines relating to contraceptive services.

    The revision to the interim final rule is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-03/pdf/2011-19684.pdf. Comments are due no later than September 17, 2011, for the interim final rule and no later than September 30, 2011, for the revision to the interim final rule.

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