Court Ruling: N.Y. Catholic Groups Exempt From Contraception Mandate

December 17, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

A U.S. District Judge in New York ruled today that a group of Catholic health and educational organizations do not have to comply with a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires employers to provide contraception coverage.

According to a report in Bloomberg Business Week, Judge Brian Coogan in Brooklyn ruled that the government can enforce its controversial contraception mandate on the following organizations: Catholic Health Care System, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Cardinal Spellman High School and Monsignor Farrell High School. The rule was first challenged in the state by Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and soon after, the Obama administration amended the law to exempt the archdiocese. The schools and health-care affiliates were still subject to the rule, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, even after that change.

In announcing his ruling, Judge Coogan wrote that the groups “have demonstrated that the mandate, despite accommodation, compels them to perform acts that are contrary to their religion,” and that the pressure from the government to comply was “substantial,” citing a $100 a day fine per affected beneficiaries for organizations that violate the mandate.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island is the largest of the four groups involved in the lawsuit, overseeing six hospitals, three nursing homes, and a hospice center, along with a health plan that covers 25,000 people in and around Long Island. A request for comment on the ruling was not immediately returned.

New York is not the only state that has groups upset about the mandate. A federal appeals court in November ruled in an Ohio case that the contraception mandate limits the right to free exercise of religion, and the Supreme Court announced last month that it will take up two cases on the constitutionality of the mandate.

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