Thursday, December 06, 2012

Contraceptive Coverage Challenge By NY Archdiocese Survives Standing and Ripeness Challenge

In Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius, (ED NY, Dec. 5, 2012), a New York federal district court permitted the Archdiocese of New York, the Catholic Health Care System (ArchCare) and Catholic Health Services of Long Island to proceed with their 1st Amendment, RFRA and Administrative Procedure Act challenges to the contraceptive coverage mandate imposed under the Affordable Care Act.  The court rejected standing and ripeness challenges to their lawsuits.  It held that the temporary enforcement safe harbor for non-profits with religious objections does not prevent plaintiffs from establishing imminent injuries. The announced review that may lead to changes in the coverage mandate for organizations with religious objections does not assure that changes will be made, and in any event costs are already being incurred in planning for possible compliance with the mandate or payment of fines for noncompliance.  The court however dismissed claims by the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Rockville Centre Catholic Charities because it appears that their health care plans are grandfathered and thus not covered by the challenged mandate. Reuters reported on the decision.