Sunday, January 19, 2020

Claims Against Notre Dame and Feds Over Contraceptive Coverage Move Ahead

Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (ND IN, Jan. 16, 2020), is the latest installment in the dispute over the extent to which Notre Dame University must provide contraceptive coverage in its health insurance plans for employees and students. As described by the Indiana federal district court:
There are really two separate disputes at play here. The first involves a challenge to regulations that would allow Notre Dame to declare itself exempt from the Women’s Health Amendment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”)....
The second part of this case presents a [new] wrinkle.... [A] week after issuing the interim final rules..., the Federal Defendants executed a private settlement agreement with Notre Dame exempting the university from all existing and future requirements with respect to contraceptive coverage. Notre Dame did not seek input from its students or faculty before entering into the settlement agreement. The Plaintiffs in this case — Irish 4 Reproductive Health (an association of Notre Dame students), Natasha Reifenberg, and Jane Does 1-3 — claim this backroom deal is illegal and unconstitutional. 
The court refused to dismiss plaintiffs' claims that the settlement agreement and the exemptive rules violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. However the court did dismiss due process and equal protection challenges. (See prior related posting.)