White House compromise manages to please both sides

I did not think this was possible. When I learned of the White House compromise on contraceptive coverage in health insurance, I was struck by a headline saying that BOTH the Catholic Health Association AND Planned Parenthood were pleased with the compromise.

A few groups at both ends of the political spectrum still have problems, but most groups seem to feel that their concerns have been heard and addressed.

The compromise says simply that if a religious institution does not want to include contraception in a health insurance package for moral reasons, then insurance companies are required to supply it directly -- without a co-pay. The cost is shifted from employers to insurers. The administration believes that insurers will not object because contraceptives save more money than they cost because they prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Sounds like a plan to me. It respects the "consciences" of any Catholic leader who objects to paying for birth control coverage, and yet it makes that service available to women through another route. Religious liberty and women's rights are both respected.

Best of all, this solution validates what I believe is the real solution to such health care dilemmas. We need to drop employer-based insurance. Health care is a human right, not a job benefit. Move toward a single-payer system like those in much of the developed world. Then any medical conscience decision rests only with the user who decides if she/he will use contraception or whatever other medicine or treatment is deemed problematic by a religious group.

For Obama, of course, this should relieve a great deal of political pressure, though the Republicans running for president will still accuse him of waging a "war on religion," no matter how ridiculous that sounds.

As this is written, there is as yet no official response from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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