Business and Economics

Franciscan Wins Federal Court Injunction Against Part of Obamacare

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December 31, 2013 by Jerry Howard

An Indiana-based Catholic hospitals group has a federal court victory today against some provisions of the Affordable Care Act’s national imposition of broad health insurance coverage.  Specifically, it involves health care provisions about reproductive rights and the exercise of Catholic religious doctrine.

Franciscan Alliance announced today that on Friday, December 27, federal court judge Jon Deguilio for the Northern District Court of Indiana issued an order granting a motion by Franciscan to prevent the federal government from imposing elements of the Act that infringe on religious beliefs of the Catholic faith.

It says the order for a preliminary injunction restricts the defendants, “the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Treasury and their agents and officers and representatives from applying or enforcing against the plaintiffs: Franciscan Alliance, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, the University of Saint Francis, and Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., or their employee insurance plans.

“This also included their plan brokers, plan insurers, or third party administrators, the requirements set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4) and 45 C.F.R. § 147.130(a)(1)(iv), corresponding guidelines to provide, pay for, or otherwise facilitate access to the FDA approved contraceptive methods, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization procedures, and related patient education and counseling.”

Franciscan says the court recognized the likelihood that it could get a permanent injunction based on religious beliefs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Franciscan also cited the ruling as noting, “that the federal regulations exempted churches from the mandated requirements but the plaintiffs as not-for- profit organizations, providing charitable services were only afforded an accommodation. This would have required them to ‘facilitate and serve as the conduit through which objectionable contraceptive products and services are ultimately provided to their employees, in violation of their unquestionably sincerely held religious beliefs.’”

Franciscan says the judge’s ruling noted that by granting exemption to churches but requiring the Catholic not-for-profitable organizations to act as facilitator and conduit for the provision of objectionable services “was, in fact, having the effect of dividing the Catholic Church into two separate entities, despite their overlapping membership and leadership and separating those inside the church’s walls from those engaging in the fulfillment of the religious and charitable missions of the Diocese of the Catholic Church.”

Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer Kevin Leahy says, “We simply asked that the government not impose its values and policies on plaintiffs, in direct violation of our religious beliefs.”

Chairperson of Franciscan Alliance’s Board of Trustees Sister Jane Marie Klein says, “Franciscan Alliance is proud of its heritage as a Not-For-Profit Catholic Health Care Corporation dedicated to is Mission of Continuing Christ’s Ministry in Our Franciscan Tradition.  We have adhered to the tenets of the Catholic faith.”

The Franciscan Alliance is one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the Midwest with 13 hospital campuses, 20,000 employees and a number of nationally recognized Centers of Health Care Excellence. Hospitals include: Franciscan St. Anthony Health- Crown Point; Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City.; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health-Crawfordsville; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health- Lafayette East; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health-Lafayette Central; Franciscan St. Francis Health-Carmel; Franciscan St. Francis Health- Indianapolis; Franciscan St. Francis Health-Mooresville; Franciscan St. James Health-Chicago Heights, Ill.; Franciscan St. James Health-Olympia Fields, Ill.; Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Hammond; Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer; and Franciscan Healthcare-Munster.  It began in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1875.


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