By Christie Smythe
A group of Catholic health and educational organizations don’t have to comply with a federal Affordable Care Act requirement to provide their employees with contraception coverage, a federal judge in New York ruled.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn today barred the government from enforcing the mandate against Catholic Health Care System, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Cardinal Spellman High School and Monsignor Farrell High School.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the health and educational groups challenged the mandate on religious freedom grounds. After the U.S. issued a rule exempting the archdiocese, schools and health-care affiliates were still subject to the law, which takes effect Jan. 1.
The groups “have demonstrated that the mandate, despite accommodation, compels them to perform acts that are contrary to their religion,” Cogan wrote. “And there can be no doubt that the coercive pressure here is substantial.”
Groups that don’t comply with the mandate are subject to fines of $100 a day per affected beneficiary, Cogan said.
Catholic Health Services of Long Island, the largest of the groups, oversees six hospitals, three nursing homes and a hospice service and has a health plan covering almost 25,000 people.
The case is Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius, 12-cv-2542, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-12-16/n-dot-y-dot-catholics-groups-win-court-bar-to-contraception-mandate-1