Interim Final Rules Defining a Religious Employer Exemption for Group Health Plans

ACCU is providing several resources to urge our member presidents to advocate for appropriate religious exemption from new regulations put forth under the Affordable Care Act. Following the extension of coverage for FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures in all mandated insurance plans, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed limited exemptions for religious organizations. As currently proposed, however, those exemptions may not extend to the majority of Catholic colleges and universities.

ACCU asks all member presidents to write individual letters to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, urging the incorporation of appropriate language to define a religious organization. A sample letter is available to adapt and send, as are other resources related to this issue. The Federal Register (below) includes details about how and where to submit comments. If you will be mailing your letter, please allow sufficient time for it to reach Secretary Sebelius. Note that all comments must be received by September 30, 2011.
Other items that presidents may find interesting and useful:
  1. The pages of the Federal Register in which the proposed regulations are published. The Register also includes specific instructions on how and where to mail letters of comment. 
  2.  A fact sheet from HHS on the proposed guidelines.
  3. A statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  4. The statement from the Catholic Health Association.
  5. An article from the National Catholic Register.
  6. A commentary in the National Catholic Reporter.
  7. NEW: Commonweal editorial asks, When should religious institutions be exempt from laws that are otherwise applicable to all citizens?
Thank you for taking action by writing to Secretary Sebelius. Together, we have the opportunity to effect change on this important issue.
ACCU thanks the organizations and individuals who offered their input and assistance in collecting these resources.


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