June 4, 2012 — A New Hampshire legislative conference committee last week agreed to drop a provision (SB 356) that would have allowed certain employers to bypass a state contraceptive coverage law, the Manchester Union Leader reports.
Since 2000, New Hampshire has required employers to cover contraceptives in their health plans, although employers that self-insure or do not offer prescription coverage are exempt (Rayno, Manchester Union Leader, 5/31).
Under the provision, entities partially or wholly owned by a religious society, as well as those formed with a religious intent, would have been able to refuse to provide the coverage. Earlier last month, the House had attached the provision to an unrelated Senate bill and requested that a joint conference committee negotiate a compromise (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/25).
Supporters of the provision said the current law amounts to religious discrimination because some Catholic organizations have to cover contraception, which is against church beliefs. Opponents argued that the expanded exemption was too broad and would allow employers to interfere with workers' medical decisions (Manchester Union Leader, 5/31).