In Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia v. Burwell, (ED PA, June 27, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court denied a preliminary injunction to several Catholic charitable organizations that object to the Affordable Care Act rules providing for execution of an opt-out form in order to avoid the requirement to cover contraceptive services under their self-insured health care plan. (Full text of complaint.) After a non-profit opts out, ERISA requires the third party administrator to directly cover contraceptive services. The court concluded that plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of success on the merits because the government may not be able to enforce the ERISA requirement against the "church plan" at issue. Even if that is not the case, the court found that the self-certification form is not what triggers the furnishing of contraceptive services by the third-party administrator.
Plaintiffs quickly filed a motion for a stay pending appeal, and the 3rd Circuit issued an order (full text) temporarily granting the stay, but requiring the parties to file responses addressing the impact of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby and Conestoga decisions (to be handed down Monday) on the issues presented. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the decision.