Tags: Contraception Mandate | Healthcare Reform | catholic | university | obamacare | court | ruling

Catholic University Wins Injunction on Obamacare Fines

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 07:12 PM

A Catholic university in Florida will be able to dodge millions of dollars in fines from Obamacare's contentious birth control mandate while its legal challenge winds its way through court, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Ave Maria University, near Naples, Fla., hailed the temporary injunction as a victory for "religious liberty rights."

"Be assured that Ave Maria University will press on until our religious liberty rights are fully vindicated," university president Jim Towey vowed.

The decision came from U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr., who ruled the college deserved short-term relief as the mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage kicks in Saturday.

At issue is Obamacare's aim to ensure most women workers have access to no-cost birth control as part of their employer-based health plans; most businesses have to provide that coverage in their policies.

But religiously affiliated employers that object can follow a separate process in which the government tasks their insurance company with providing for the coverage at no cost to the organization. Employers in this group previously had to alert the insurer to their objection themselves, The Hill reports, but under a recent policy, they are asked to tell federal health officials, who will pass the word along.

Groups like Ave Maria University that consider birth control immoral remain opposed to the most recent policy, however, arguing to engage in any process that ultimately provides the objectionable coverage violates their religious liberty, The Hill reports.

Moody's decision didn't rule on the merits of Ave Maria's case.

But the injunction spares Ave Maria up to $17 million in fines annually, the Naples Daily News reports.

Writing on the university's website, Towey called the Tuesday order "a significant victory because it is the first federal court case since the United States Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case and the subsequent issuance of the so-called 'augmented' regulations by the Obama administration."

In June, the high court ruled in favor of the privately held company's claim that Obamacare's contraception mandate violates the owners' biblical principles.

Eric Baxter, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the college, added that after "dozens of court rulings, the government still doesn’t seem to get that it can’t force faith institutions to violate their beliefs," The Hill reported.

"Fortunately, the courts continue to see through the government’s attempts to disguise the mandate’s religious coercion."

Ave Maria first filed a lawsuit against the federal government in February 2012 in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, saying the mandate about contraception coverage was unconstitutional. Two months later, the university stopped offering health insurance to students after its insurance carrier notified Ave Maria it was required to pay all students’ claims for "preventive services."

In March 2013, a federal judge dismissed Ave Maria ’s lawsuit but permitted the university to refile if it objected to the government’s final regulations.

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A Catholic university in Florida will be able to dodge millions of dollars in fines from Obamacare's contentious birth control mandate while its legal challenge winds its way through court, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
catholic, university, obamacare, court, ruling, fines
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2014-12-28
Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 07:12 PM
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