Insurance news- Oklahoma Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of HHS Contraceptive Mandate Against Hundreds of Member Employers of the Catholic Benefits Association


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OKLAHOMA CITY, June 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Late on June 4, the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled that all employer members of the Catholic Benefits Association are exempt from the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive/abortifacient mandate ("Mandate").  It also "enjoined and restrained" the relevant federal departments, "their agents, officers, and employees, and all other in active concert or participation with them . . . from any effort to apply or enforce" the Mandate against members of the Catholic Benefits Association.  The Court also specifically ruled that the over 450 CBA employer members and the almost 2,000 Catholic parishes that are CBA members shall not be liable for "any penalties, fines and assessments for noncompliance with" the Mandate.  Archbishop William Lori, President of the Catholic Benefits Association and Archbishop of Baltimore, remarked, "we formed the Catholic Benefits Association to support Catholic employers in providing quality, cost-competitive, morally compliant health care benefits for their employees. Yesterday's decision makes this a reality."  

The CBA's general counsel, Martin Nussbaum, noted "this ruling is especially gratifying because this lawsuit, alone among the HHS contraceptive mandate cases, includes three groups of Catholic employers—"houses of worship" that are, by regulation, exempt; non-exempt ministries like colleges, Catholic Charities, and healthcare institutions; and Catholic-owned for profit businesses."  It is also one of only a few class action suits in this unprecedented situation in which so many religious groups have sued the federal government because its Mandate violates their religious beliefs.

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