Update on the HHS rule

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Evan Hierholzer, Managing Editor

 

President Keefe sent an announcement Nov. 1 to University of Dallas faculty and staff that outlined the university’s official position with regard to insurance provisions required by the Affordable Care Act. Two weeks later, all UD employees were required to make decisions with regard to their insurance plans.

Keefe’s announcement indicated that the University of Dallas is currently involved in a suit disputing the act’s requirement that UD provide coverage for contraception and other drugs and procedures prohibited by the Church.

“In a suit against the Secretary for Health and Human Services, the university has challenged the requirement that UD, as a church-affiliated institution, provide them,” said Keefe in his letter to the faculty and staff.

Moreover, while the case is pending, the university has taken measures for the short term in order to exempt itself from the act’s objectionable elements.

“For the interim, the university has filed for injunctive relief, [which would release] UD from an obligation to provide the offensive components,” Keefe’s letter said.

“We are part of a collective lawsuit against the federal government to have relief from this qualification. We will find out in the next week or two whether we have been granted [the injunctive relief],” said John Plotts, vice president of enrollment and student affairs.

Plotts further clarified the nature of the injunctive relief: “[The injunctive relief] is more temporary, so we can not provide those services while the law is being sorted out. But all the while [we’ll] still [be] engaged in a lawsuit that says that as the law stands currently, and if it is enacted, we are against it.”

While waiting for the results of both the request for injunctive relief and the larger lawsuit, UD will still provide its employees with healthcare.

“Our current position is that we are supposed to comply with the Affordable Care Act, so we are doingthat, rather than the option of not providing health care for our people,” said Plotts.

In light of the fact that the university’s compliance with the Affordable Care Act includes providing policies that offer “offensive components,” the president urged faculty and staff to use their judgment in the utilization of their insurance plans.

“I ask every member of our community to stand firm according to her or his conscience in selectively utilizing health insurance components,” said Keefe in his letter.

“The president has quoted the bishop as saying that we will provide health care for our constituents, and that if it provides objectionable services that we will trust each individual to use his conscience with regard to the utilization of these services,” elaborated Plotts.

While awaiting progress in the larger lawsuit against the Secretary of HHS, the university may hope to hear about the granting of injunctive relief by the end of November or the beginning of December, according to Plotts.

 

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