President Obama is looking to cut a deal with Catholic leaders on a rule requiring religious employers to cover contraceptives, but it's not clear how the president will wiggle. Reports this morning hint at a potential compromise but also suggest the issue is far from being settled.
In today's New York Times, White House aides say the administration will look at ways to make the requirement acceptable to religious institutions "perhaps by allowing some employers to make side insurance plans available that are not directly paid for by the institutions." At the same time, the officials insisted "the president would not back down from his decision last month that employees at institutions affiliated with religious organizations receive access to contraceptives."
The Wall Street Journal reports that a compromise being floated is modeled after a law in president Obama's homestate. "Hawaii law requires health-insurance plans to cover contraception in the same way they cover other prescription drugs," reports the newspaper. "But it allows religious employers to enroll workers in a plan with a reduced premium, and allows employees who want contraception to pay for the coverage out of their own pockets directly to the insurer. The result is no employer funds go toward contraception, and employees don't pay more for contraceptive coverage than if they worked for an employer that did include it."