The Catholic Benefits Association (CBA) recently won an injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate, which requires all health plans to cover some of the costs for contraceptives for plan participants. U.S. District Court Judge David Russell issued this permanent decision, noting that the mandate was also in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because it forced catholic employers to provide contraception and sterilization, despite their deeply held religious beliefs opposing these provisions.
The mandate, which went into effect in 2012, has provided a moral dilemma for catholic employers since its inception. Before the contraceptives mandate became applicable to all new health plans, in August of 2012, the Affordable Care Act mandated the coverage of contraceptives for all employers and educational institutions. Unfortunately, and controversially, the current contraceptives mandate still applies to Christian hospitals, Catholic universities, and other religious organizations who oppose the use of contraception.
Many Catholic organizations, besides the CBA, have filed similar contraception relief suits, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were recently permitted by a federal appeals court to join the current administration in fighting the ACA’s contraception mandate. The Little Sisters, previously part of a larger suit, filed motions in November of 2017 to join two mandate suits, one in California, and the other in Pennsylvania, however the Attorney General for Pennsylvania objected to their inclusion. Now they are being given a fair chance to be heard thanks to the ruling of the federal appeals court late last month.
While this CBA decision does not apply to all catholic organizations, it is a step in the right direction, and a huge victory for the hundreds of employers belonging to the Catholic Benefits Association. Until and if the current administration is successful in rolling back the mandate, we’ll be monitoring the developments and passing the information along to you.