Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Catholic Health Association says it can live with HHS mandate

Michael Sean Winters
National Catholic Reporter
July 9, 2013

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) on Tuesday issued a memorandum for its members regarding the final rule on the controversial contraception mandate ordered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Essentially, CHA believes the combination of exemptions and accommodations within the mandate are sufficient.

"HHS has now established an accommodation that will allow our ministries to continue offering health insurance plans for their employees as they have always done," the memorandum states. In addition to the memorandum, CHA issued comments on the final HHS rule, explaining how it will work for CHA members.

"We have prepared this explanation for members to help them understand the accommodation and how to implement it," the memorandum states. "Throughout this process, CHA has been in dialogue with the leadership of the Bishops' Conference, the Administration and HHS. We are pleased that our members now have an accommodation that will not require them to contract, provide, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage."

The CHA stance differs from that taken, so far, by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which continues to insist the mandate does require those Catholic organizations that are not exempt but that are subject to the accommodation to "facilitate or fund" the contraceptive coverage. In the "Summary of Final Rule" CHA sent its members, it outlines how the accommodation will work:

For eligible organizations that have insured plans, the first step will be to have an authorized individual execute a self-certification in the form specified by HHS prior to the first day of its first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2014. All that will be asked on the form is for the organization to confirm that it satisfies the first three criteria of the "eligible organization" definition. The form does not have to be filed with any governmental agency, but does have to be maintained under the record retention requirements of ERISA and be made available for inspection on request.

The second step is for the organization to present the self-certification to its insurer. Once that is done, the eligible organization has no further obligations regarding contraceptive coverage, even if the insurer does not satisfy the requirements regarding contraceptive coverage imposed on it by the final regulations. Upon receiving the self-certification, the insurer is required by the federal government to assume sole responsibility, independent of the eligible organization and its plan, to pay for contraceptive services without cost-sharing, premium, fee, or other charge to plan participants and beneficiaries.

Read entire article at National Catholic Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment