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N.H. bill would let group plans exclude prescription contraceptive coverage

N.H. bill would let group plans exclude prescription contraceptive coverage

CONCORD, N.H.—Legislation previously approved by the New Hampshire House of Representatives to allow insurers to exclude prescription contraceptive coverage from group plans if plan sponsors have “religious objections” to the coverage faces an uncertain future after a Senate committee vote to further study the bill.

The Public and Municipal Affairs Committee voted 4-0 Tuesday that the full Senate further study H.B. 1546, which, if approved, would amend a New Hampshire law that requires group health insurers to include contraceptive coverage on the same basis as the coverage they provide in group plans for other prescriptions.

That state mandate, though does not apply to self-funded employers due to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which pre-empts state and local laws that relate to employee benefit plans.

The exemption in the New Hampshire bill goes considerably further than federal health care reform law rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Under those rules, only religious organizations do not have to provide coverage of prescription contraceptives. Insurers of religious organizations' nonprofit affiliates, such as health care systems, must provide the coverage for plan years that begin on or after Aug. 1, 2013.

The Obama administration is seeking comments on how the federal rules should apply to affiliates of religious organizations that self-fund the coverage. All other employers would have to comply for plan years that begin on or after Aug. 1 this year.

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