Government argues mandate on contraception is not a burden

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Attorneys for the federal government argued in a court filing Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate imposes no burden on nonprofit organizations that share the insurance plan of the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.

The brief comes in advance of a Friday hearing before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab in the case filed by the diocese that seeks an injunction stopping the act from compelling its insurance administrator to cover some contraception and related services.

Under the act, religious nonprofit employers can tell their insurance administrators that they object to that coverage. That compels the administrator to provide the coverage independently. The diocese-affiliated nonprofit organizations have joined many other, similar groups in claiming that the arrangement violates their religious freedom.

According to the brief filed by Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery, there is no statute that allows the government to enforce the mandate against third-party insurance administrators (known as TPAs) like those retained by the diocesan organizations.

Mr. Delery wrote that “enforcement authority is not available with respect to the TPAs of self-insured church plans under the [act’s] accommodations, and the government has no statutory or regulatory authority to compel such TPAs to provide contraceptive coverage to self-insured church plan participants and beneficiaries.”

Therefore the act imposes “absolutely no burden” on the organizations, he wrote.

John D. Goetz, lead attorney for the diocese, had no comment.

Read the brief below or click here to download the full document.

 

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published July 15, 2014 12:00 AM

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