In an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act required religiously-affiliated institutions -- including churches -- to "buy birth control pills for their employees." In fact, churches are exempted from the mandate, and contraceptive services will be provided by health insurance plans, not religiously-affiliated employers.
Schieffer is misinforming his viewers when he says that the mandate for contraceptive coverage applies to churches. The rule regarding contraceptive coverage specifically exempts actual houses of worship
Furthermore, the rule doesn't force any religiously-affiliated institution to purchase birth control pills or distribute them to its employees.
The ACA includes a provision requiring that insurance plans provide "a comprehensive set of services," as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Contraception, which can have health benefits that go far beyond preventing pregnancy, is one of several services that all health insurance plans must cover without a co-pay. As the Baltimore Sun explained, contraceptive coverage "was far from the only benefit that HHS determined should be offered without co-pay - diabetes testing, immunizations and certain types of cancer screening were also recommended."
According to a statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine's recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception."
As Sebelius made clear in her statement, Catholic universities and hospitals aren't going to be buying birth control for their employees any more than they will be buying blood pressure tests and dialysis. Institutions that provide health insurance as an employment benefit are offering just that - health insurance. When a person with employer-provided coverage goes to the doctor or pharmacist, we normally think of their bills as being paid for not by their employer but by their health insurance plan.