LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The Women's Preventative Healthcare Amendment took effect Wednesday.
One of the pivotal pieces of President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law, the amendment requires insurance companies to provide, for free, both birth control and other basic check ups and services to women they cover.
The new law is supposed to do-away with high co-pays.
Although it won't take effect for everyone right away.
Only new health plans, effective August 1, will include the mandate.
Previous insurance plans will not have to make the alteration until they're renewed.
Employers classified as universities or religious organizations will not be required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees during the law's first year.
But the Catholic Church has long voiced its opposition to the policy as a whole.
This Bishop of the La Crosse Diocese said one year is not long enough. The church cannot provide insurance that covers contraception to its employees.
"There's an antecedent law that says ‘thou shalt not kill,'" said Bishop William Patrick Callahan.
"So we're interested in the promotion and sacredness of human life. All those things are based on our understanding of human life and we see these as things that are protected by our first amendment rights."
"We certainly aren't trying to force our way of thinking down anyone's throat," the Bishop added.
"But this is an issue of religious freedom."
"This an issue of the first amendment of the constitution and this should be something that every single American should be concerned about," Callahan added.
But Brooke Ellis, of La Crosse, said she's confident the new law is a step in the right direction.
"Birth control is not a necessity but a lot of women want it," she said.
Ellis's insurance currently covers birth control, which she gets for free at La Crosse's Options Clinic.
Options Clinic Administrative Services Director Erin Behlen said Brooke is among some 6-thousand women that visit the center for both contraception and basic checkups that will now be covered under the preventative health care amendment.
But she said, unlike Brooke, not all of them are able to bill everything to their insurance.
"For many of the people we see, either their insurance doesn't cover birth control or their co-pay is too high," Behlen said.
"But having access to these things is just good health care," she added.
"Birth control does a lot more than just prevent births. We see that women want to take birth control for things like acne and menstrual cramps," Behlen said.
Although Behlen acknowledged what the law means for health insurance premiums down the road is up in the air.
"In the long run I think this will be a good thing," she said. "But to say what's going to happen with the costs shifting up or down, and with insurance companies, that I don't know that at this point."
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