Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Court Says ACA Contraceptive Coverage Rules For Religious Non-Profits Do Not Violate RFRA

In Diocese of Cheyenne v. Sebelius, (D WY, My 13, 2014), a Wyoming federal district court denied a preliminary injunction in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate rules for religious non-profits. Wyoming Catholic schools and charitable groups object to the opt out self-certification form that results in the third-party administrator of their self-insurance plans furnishing contraceptive coverage directly to the non-profits' employees.  The court concluded that this does not impose a substantial burden on plaintiffs' religious exercise:
It is not Plaintiffs' self-certification that authorizes or obligates the TPA to ensure the objectionable contraceptive coverage; it is the ACA that does so.... Consequently, Plaintiffs' argument that completing the self-certification form requires them to enable access to objectionable contraceptive products and services is inaccurate and unconvincing....
While Plaintiffs hold very strong religious views that the TPA should not provide (or be forced by federal law to provide) contraceptive coverage, the TPA's provision of such coverage cannot be said to be a substantial burden on Plaintiffs'religious exercise....
Through the ACA's accommodation, Plaintiffs have the right to be exempted from participating in, providing, or paying for the costs associated with the objectionable contraceptive coverage based on their sincere religious beliefs, but they have no right to prevent a third party (who does not hold those same religious objections) from meeting the ACA's requirements.
AP reports on the decision. (See prior related posting.)