Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Changes to HHS Mandate ‘Accommodation Process’ Coming, Says Obama Admin.

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s order granting a Christian college temporary relief from the HHS mandate, the Obama administration is promising to “augment” the mandate’s “accommodation process” within the next month, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, a majority of justices on the high court granted Wheaton College temporary injunctive relief from the mandate which requires religious institutions to provide coverage of abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures.

Previously, the administration’s “accommodation” to the mandate consisted of forcing religious institutions which objected to the requirements of the mandate to fill out a form which would result in the insurers providing the objectionable coverage. The accommodation has been hotly contested by the U.S. bishops, Catholic colleges, and other religious institutions.

In granting temporary relief to Wheaton, the high court said that the federal government could allow the college to report its religious objection directly to the federal government which would then decide how the controversial coverage was provided.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Justice Department lawyers said in a brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that the federal government would issue new regulations in the next month that will apply to all nonprofit institutions that say the faith with which they are affiliated is opposed to the use of most forms of contraception.

"The Wheaton College injunction does not reflect a final Supreme Court determination," the brief said. "Nevertheless, the Departments responsible for implementing the accommodations have informed us that they have determined to augment the regulatory accommodation process in light of the Wheaton College injunction and that they plan to issue interim final rules within a month. We will inform the Court when the rules are issued."

A senior administration official said the details of the rules are still being worked out. But it is likely that the Supreme Court's order will shape the new compromise arrangement, and that nonprofit institutions will be able to write a letter stating their objections, rather than filing a form. That would leave the federal government to work out how those employers get access to contraception coverage.

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