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Catholic hospitals accept birth control compromise

NEW YORK — In a split with US bishops, a trade group for Catholic hospitals said Tuesday that it can accept the Obama administration’s latest compromise on birth control coverage by religious employers.

‘‘We are pleased that our members now have an accommodation that will not require them to contract, provide, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage,’’ said the Catholic Health Association.

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Under President Obama’s health care law, most employers are required to cover birth control as a free preventive service for women workers. Houses of worship are fully exempt from the mandate. But religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service groups are not.

The compromise attempts to create a buffer for these employers. It requires insurers or the health plan’s outside administrator to pay for birth control coverage, and creates a mechanism for reimbursing them. However, US Roman Catholic bishops are suing to overturn the entire requirement, saying it trespasses on freedom of religion.

The administration’s original birth control rule, introduced early last year, exempted churches and other houses of worship. However, faith-affiliated charities, universities, and other nonprofits were required to comply. After a public outcry, the Obama administration floated a series of compromises that resulted in a final accommodation June 28.

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