WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the Catholic Health Association’s acceptance of  ules governing women’s access to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act was “less than helpful” to the bishops’ effort to seek changes in the mandate.

“We have not, ourselves as bishops, been able to arrive at the same conclusion, that accommodation with HHS is that easy,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York at a news conference Sept. 11 after a two-day meeting of the USCCB’s Administrative Committee.

While acknowledging CHA’s expertise in health care concerns, the cardinal told reporters he appreciated the fact the organization acknowledged the bishops remain the authentic teachers of faith and morals within the church.

“We really listen to them in a lot of the input they give us. But when it comes to faith and morals that, of course is what this ultimately is all about, they do defer to us,” he said.
The contraceptive mandate remains a “high, high concern among the bishops,” he said.

The Department of Health and Human Services June 28 issued final rules for implementing the mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. The USCCB maintains the rules still conflict with church teaching. Cardinal Dolan said the conference is evaluating its next steps in response.