Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

HHS Mandate Comment Period Ends Without a Public Response from Notre Dame

The 60-day period for public comment regarding a proposed compromise to the Affordable Care Act’s mandated contraceptive coverage expired Monday without any public response from The University of Notre Dame. 

The White House proposed their compromise on Feb. 1, crafting language that they said would potentially allow Catholic institutions to issue a health insurance plan to employees without directly providing birth control coverage.

According to The Observer, University spokesman Dennis Brown declined to comment at this time on why the University did not submit a public comment during this response period. Brown did not return a call from The Cardinal Newman Society.

When the White House released the proposed compromise in February, Brown said Notre Dame administrators needed to fully analyze and discuss its contents. 

The proposal suggested a separate, individual private insurance policy that could provide contraceptive coverage at no cost for the employees of faith-based organizations.

“These proposed rules aim to provide women with contraceptive coverage without cost sharing and to protect eligible organizations from having to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds,” the proposal stated.

The proposal is an amendment to rules regarding minimum insurance packages set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of its regulatory authority under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The University filed one of more than 40 lawsuits from faith-based organizations to fight the constitutionality of the contraceptive mandate. The University's lawsuit was dismissed in January as not yet ready for litigation.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has continued to voice its concerns about the mandate.

“[The proposed rule] appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities,” said USCCB President Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. “HHS offers what it calls an ‘accommodation’ rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.”

HHS is now reviewing public comments to decide whether the draft of the rule will become final.

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