The newly announced plan still mandates coverage of contraception, but will shift the provision to insurers, rather than employers.
The White House said on Friday that it will require insurance companies to pick up the tab for women's contraceptives, exempting religious employers from the rule, in what it called an "accommodation" on the hotly contested issue of paying for birth control.
The White House said it would post a proposed rule that requires insurance companies to offer contraception coverage directly to women.
The much-awaited compromise is meant to appease religious institutions that say federal rules on contraception violate their religious beliefs.
"Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge," the White House said in a statement. "Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception," it added. "Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception."
A senior administration official said that the plan was not a compromise. "This is an accommodation," the official said. "We have been working on this policy for some time." Republicans in Congress have been piling on the administration for days, denouncing the plan to ensure that women get health insurance coverage for contraception free of charge. The administration had offered an exemption to purely religious employers and gave religious-affiliated groups, such as Catholic hospitals, a year to come up with ways to provide the coverage to employees.