The basic proposal seems to be this. If you’re an organization with a bona fide religious identity that happens to employ a lot of people who don’t belong to your religion, and you provide health insurance, coverage for contraceptive services will be provided without your having to pay a cent or lift a finger.
What about those institutions that self-insure? The administrators of their plans–which are, in fact, insurance companies–will arrange with insurance companies (themselves?) to provide the contraceptive coverage free of charge.
Do I think the Catholic bishops and their evangelical allies will accept this? Of course not. They will say that the arrangement would implicate them in supporting something to which they are religiously opposed. Because if they provided no health coverage, then there would be no contraception coverage.
But maybe they should ponder this. If they stop providing health coverage altogether, then the employees will get the free contraception coverage anyway, via the health exchanges set up for uninsured workers under the Affordable Care Act. You’re equally complicit in contraceptive coverage whether you continue providing health coverage or not.
Update: Immediate opposition registered by the Becket Fund, which is representing many of the plaintiffs in the civil suits challenging the contraception mandate:
Attorney Kyle Duncan of the Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, a legal defense group spearheading many of the suits, said in a statement that the new rule does not satisfy his clients. “Today’s proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans,” Duncan said.
Meanwhile, the USCCB is making up its mind.