Leadership at the Catholic Benefits Association believes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will soon announce new regulations that may pose an existential threat to religious-based employers including Catholic hospitals.
Discovery of a 74-page legal memorandum attached to a court filing from a consortium of 30 sexual rights groups last year revealed that HHS has promised to revise its mandates on health plan coverage and performance to include surgical abortion, cross-sex hormones, gender-transition surgeries, gender-affirming cosmetic surgeries and voice modification — along with a host of expanded services dealing with fertility treatments, contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations.
It is believed that sometime in April, HHS could announce the proposed regulations, which would not only disallow religious exemptions but would have a broad cost and compliance impact on all U.S. employers.
“The memo prepared by the Leadership Conference provides the best forecast of what the new regulation will say. We don’t know for sure what the regulation will say but there is good reason to believe that it will be quite similar to the memo signed on by 30 sexual rights activist groups including Planned Parenthood,” said attorney Martin Nussbaum of Nussbaum Speir Gleason in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a legal firm that advises the Catholic Benefits Association….
The proposed HHS regulations would apply to implementation of an Affordable Care Act provision that includes a prohibit on discrimination based on sex. It will likely apply to all health care providers, clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, group health insurers and third-party administrators of self-funded plans.
“And if the new regulation applies to all of those groups, it will effectively apply to all employers with a health plan,” Nussbaum told Catholic News Service. “The proposed regulation would also apply to all contractors of the previous groups, including my law firm. For Catholic hospital chains it is hard to imagine how broad that group is.”
“The forthcoming (HHS) regulation presents an existential threat to Catholic health care because the penalties to noncompliance will likely include private enforcement, class-action lawsuits, ‘qui tam’ actions, which is where an individual can file a lawsuit as if he or she were the United States itself,” he explained. “The penalties may also include loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding and even imprisonment for noncomplying health care executives.”
Doug Wilson, CEO of the Colorado-based Catholic Benefits Association, said he planned to discuss the anticipated HHS announcement with the leadership of other Catholic health care associations coming together under a newly formed umbrella organization called the Catholic Healthcare Leadership Alliance….
“The general public has almost no awareness of what may be coming,” Wilson added.
“It is written to end Catholic health care. The requirements are so far beyond Catholic teaching that Catholic employers of every sort would be faced with complying or shutting down,” Wilson said….
The above comes from an April 5 story on the site of the Catholic News Service.