Thus, participants in the CBEBT which are not classified as "religious employers" but rather as "eligible organizations" (eligible for an accommodation) should know that they are not required to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees. The injunction protects them (for now) from the $100 per day per employee fine that the ACA imposes upon employers who do not cover all the essential health benefits and are not classified as a religious employer or as eligible for an accommodation.February 11, 2014
Update on Class Action Lawsuit Challenging the Contraceptive MandateAs many of you may know, in September 2013, Christian Brothers Services (CBS), together with a number of participating employers in the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust (the CBEBT), filed a class action lawsuit in federal court challenging the application of the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to participating employers in the CBEBT. This lawsuit sought to prohibit the government from applying the mandate to participating employers in the CBEBT, or applying any penalties for failing to comply with the mandate.
On December 28, 2013 the federal trial judge assigned to our case denied our request for a preliminary injunction pending the resolution of the case. We ultimately appealed that ruling to the United States Supreme Court and were granted a temporary injunction by Justice Sotomayor on December 31, 2013. On January 24, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an injunction to the employer applicants so long as they inform the government that they are "are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services." That injunction prevents enforcement of the contraceptive mandate against those employer applicants until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on our request for an injunction.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR EBT MEMBERS
While the case is pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Catholic employers participating in the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust will not be required to provide or arrange for contraceptive coverage.
Because the government agreed at the outset of the case that any preliminary injunction for the named plaintiffs would extend to the entire class, the Supreme Court's order affects nearly 400 Catholic organizations throughout the United States that provide health benefits for their employees through the Trust that are not already exempt from the contraceptive mandate. Our attorneys are currently in discussions with government officials as to exactly what employers participating in the Trust need to do to be covered by the Supreme Court's injunction. We will let you know if the government takes the position that there is anything else that you need to do in order to be protected during the pendency of this case.
CBS is dedicated to providing you with current and up-to-date information on this issue. On February 27, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. Central time, we will be hosting a webinar entitled, "Healthcare Reform Update." Also, within the next few weeks we will be releasing a white paper entitled, "Remaining Faithful: Adhering to Catholic Tenets While Abiding by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)" which will be posted to our website.
CBS supports the basic elements of the ACA and is well aware that dimensions of health care in the United States need improvement. However, we were brought to this action by the federal government, which made numerous exemptions and accommodations as ACA was being implemented, but refused to exempt CBEBT plan participants. Through the Church Alliance, Christian Brothers Services had spent three years attempting to work with government officials on these issues as the regulations under the ACA were being drafted, but the government chose to define a "religious employer" narrowly and to target those employers who do not match their cramped definition. We, together with our fellow litigants, are on the front line in this battle to defend religious liberty for ourselves and our participants.
If you have any questions, please contact John Airola at 800- 807-0100 x 2450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indeed, even though a Catholic employer that uses CBEBT may not have an objection to these services or products, Christian Brothers is seeking through this lawsuit to protect its own right to be recognized as a religious organization and to not be required to supply these items. Normally, in situations where there is an accommodation, the insurance company must provide these items to the employees in a separate arrangement. Since Christian Brothers is also a Catholic employer, it also is seeking the same right of refusal. It does not qualify under current ACA provisions as a religious employer nor as eligible for an accommodation.
We will continue to follow the developments in this lawsuit.