Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Government Agrees That Priests for Life Qualifies For ACA Mandate Enforcement Safe-Harbor

Last January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would impose a moratorium on enforcement of the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate until August 1, 2013  for non-profit employers who, based on religious beliefs, did not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan. (See prior posting.) In August of this year, HHS issued a Guidance on the Temporary Enforcement Safe Harbor confirming that the temporary enforcement safe harbor would be in effect until the first plan year that begins on or after August 1, 2013 for non-profit employers with conscience exemptions which have consistently not provided contraceptive coverage in the past. Now in Priests for Life v. Sebelius, (ED NY, Dec. 21, 2012), the parties have filed a stipulation in a New York federal district court agreeing that Priests for Life qualifies for the temporary enforcement safe harbor. Priests for Life will provide a notice to its health plan participants that contraceptive services will not be covered during the safe-harbor period. The stipulation comes one day after oral arguments in Priests for Life's challenge to the mandate. (Press release from American Freedom Law Center.)  (See prior related posting.)