Cal Catholic received a copy of the following letter from one of our readers.
From: The Office of the President
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2013 4:19 PM
To: University Communications
Subject: Health Benefits Coverage Update
Message from the President
August 15, 2013
Dear Faculty and Staff:
We are writing to inform you of a change in LMU’s health benefits coverage regarding elective abortions and to correct some misrepresentations that have been reported about how this change occurred.
Dating back to at least 1988 and the Presidency of Fr. James Loughran, S.J., the question of insurance coverage for elective abortions has been an ongoing concern at LMU. Consistent with our mission as a Catholic university, we have inquired on several occasions since then about our ability to exclude such coverage from our group health plans. Until very recently, each time we inquired about the ability to exclude this coverage, we were informed by our healthcare consultants and carriers that we could not exclude this coverage from our health plans. Last fall, we again inquired and received a similar negative response from our consultants about both of our health care plans – Anthem and Kaiser. The reason given was that both insurers were restricted from doing so based upon their approved fully insured contracts on file with the California Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Care. Very recently, however, we were notified that the information we had received in response to our fall 2012 inquiry was inaccurate. In fact, without informing either our healthcare consultant or the University, Anthem had already removed this specific coverage from its LMU plan effective January 1, 2013. Further, Kaiser has now agreed to exclude this coverage from our Kaiser plan effective January 1, 2014.
The only benefit change in question is to exclude elective abortions from our health plans. All other procedures and services including those related to women’s reproductive health remain in full force and effect.
The decision to exclude this coverage, once it became possible, flows directly from our values as a Catholic university in the Jesuit/Marymount traditions. This change will be thoroughly discussed by the entire Board of Trustees at the October Board Meeting. Prior to that meeting, there will be a process established by which any of you who wish will have the opportunity to comment on this change in writing, so that the Board can consider your written comments before it entertains a motion to ratify this change.
Please know that we remain deeply committed to providing the best possible employee health benefits, while respecting the diversity of our campus and our Catholic and Jesuit/Marymount traditions.
Kathleen Hannon Aikenhead
Chair, Board of Trustees
David W. Burcham