Religious nonprofits are under pressure to decide whether they will accept an accommodation extended by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring most employers to insure contraceptives through their employees’ health plans or pay hefty fines.
“It still does not not sufficiently take into account our religious objection,” said Larry Morris, general counsel for the university. “We’re certainly significant facilitators” of birth control if they accept the mandate.
Houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, but for-profit corporations have not been granted any relief from the mandate.
Faith-based nonprofits such as universities and hospitals fall somewhere in the middle. In late June, HHS finalized a rule that would allow the nonprofits’ employees to acquire contraceptive coverage directly from insurers, without forcing their employers to be involved in managing or paying for the coverage.
Georgetown University and the Catholic Hospital Association recently announced that they accept the terms of the accommodation. But America’s Catholic bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention and other religious groups have rejected the regulatory compromise.
Mr. Morris said Catholic University, located in the nation’s capital, will make its decision independently. But it needs to act fast.
The school’s health plan will be renewed Jan. 1 — when the mandate starts to cover nonprofits’ employees — meaning they need to forge their plans by about August, he said.
“It sure is crunch time,” Mr. Morris said.
Dozens of faith-based nonprofits and corporations have sued over the mandate, which may be headed for a showdown in the Supreme Court.
In January, a federal judge threw out Catholic University’s lawsuit on procedural grounds, calling it premature because the institution’s health plans would not be affected by the mandate until the start of the following year.