Friday, August 22, 2014

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Federal Appellate Court Denies Injunctive Relief, Questions Remedy Desired by Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame has once again been denied injunctive relief from the HHS Mandate as its case continues, according to the South Bend Tribune.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in a 2-1 decision on Friday upheld a lower court’s ruling and rejected the relief desired by the Catholic university.

In its decision, Judge Richard A. Posner reportedly questioned precisely what remedy the university wanted since the school had already submitted the required form for the University to opt-out and switch the cost for abortifacients and contraceptives for employees to a third party administrator, according to the Tribune.

After failing to receive injunctive relief by January 1, the University announced that it would comply with the HHS mandate by authorizing a third party administrator of its health plan to provide the problematic benefits mandated by the Obama administration rather than paying exorbitant fines as its case made its way through the courts.

But concerned alumni called on the University to explain or disavow the actions of its Human Resources Department which voluntarily participated in providing contraceptives and abortifacient benefits to employees, as was previously reported.  The alumni said that the University’s HR department sent out a direct message to University employees providing instructions about the use of the “Women’s Preventive Services ID Cards” and invited employees to directly call “HR customer service” with questions.

In the federal appellate court ruling, Judge Posner stated:

We imagine that what the university wants is an order forbidding Aetna [which provides coverage to students] and Meritain to provide any contraceptive coverage to Notre Dame staff or students pending final judgment in the district court... But we can’t issue such an order; neither Aetna nor Meritain is a defendant (the university’s failure to join them as defendants puzzles us), so unless and until they are joined as defendants they can’t be ordered by the district court or by this court to do anything.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case against the HHS mandate brought by two for-profit businesses in March. 

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