Justice Department Battles Notre Dame on Contraception Mandate

Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 10:40 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The Justice Department is fighting the University of Notre Dame's latest request for a reprieve from Obamacare's contraception coverage mandate, setting up a court showdown next month, Politico reported Wednesday.

The university argues its objection is the same as that of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Baltimore-based Catholic nuns for whom Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay of the mandate, which would have forced them to provide insurance coverage for birth control and other ordered contraception provisions.

But in "sharp contrast" to the nuns' case, argued the Justice Department brief, filed Tuesday, "thousands of individuals are already beneficiaries of the coverage at issue in this case."

Also, the department said that Notre Dame, unlike the Little Sisters, "does not provide insurance through a church plan; it offers insurance to its employees through a self-insured plan."

The famed South Bend, Ind., Catholic university was denied a similar stay by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late last year. Its new arguments will be heard Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Notre Dame is going along with the ordered coverage.

On Jan. 2, Notre Dame told its faculty and staff a third-party administrator would notify them about access to contraception and other mandated provisions of Obamacare, the National Catholic Register reported.

“Having been denied a stay, Notre Dame is advising employees that, pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, our third-party administrator is required to notify plan participants of coverage provided under its contraceptives payment program,” said Paul Browne, Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications.

He also said the university would continue to battle in court to win a reprieve, the Register reported.

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