On August 22, The Cardinal Newman Society joined with two legal groups in a letter notifying the California Department of Managed Health Care that the state may lose federal funds due to its recent move to force two Catholic universities to include coverage for elective abortion in their insurance plans.
The Department of Managed Health Care notified Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University on Friday of the change which includes elective abortion as a “medically necessary” procedure. The Department told the universities that excluding elective abortion is a violation of a 1975 state law. The decision will impact any California organization that is not self-insured and force it to provide elective abortion as part of its health plans.
In response, Life Legal Defense Foundation legal director Catherine Short and Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Matt Bowman, writing on behalf of Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly, sent a letter to Department director Shelly Rouillard informing her that federal law prohibits California from mandating abortion coverage in health insurance plans.
The letter cites the Weldon Amendment, which stipulates,“None of the funds made available in this Act may be made available to… a State… if such… government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer abortions.”
The signers write that, if the Department does not reverse the decision, they are prepared to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services, which has authority to enforce the Weldon Amendment.
“The DMHC’s action is a clear violation of the Weldon Amendment and, if not reversed, could trigger loss of funding to the entire state and its departments,” the letter states.
Additionally, the authors state that the notion that elective abortion is medically necessary is a “self-evidently false proposition.” And they write that the Department’s decision does not prohibit religious employers from determining which services its insurance plan will cover.
The letter was copied to California’s congressional delegation, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and California health insurance companies.
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