Catholic University Drops Student Health Care Plan Over Contraceptive Mandate

Franciscan University, a Catholic institution in Steubensville, Ohio, is claiming that Obamacare has forced the school to end its student heath insurance program. The massive health care overhaul, the university says, has led to cost increases that no longer make offering the program a viable possibility.

Not surprisingly, President Obama’s controversial contraception mandate is one of the the provisions that caused Franciscan University to make its startling decision. In addition to the mandate, which the school says would force Catholics to violate conscience, another provision in the president’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — one that requires a maximum coverage amount to be increased to $100,000 for policyholders — was cited as the basis for the decision.

In an interview with Fox News, Mike Hernon, the university’s vice president of advancement, claimed that Obamacare would cause the $600 student policy to double in cost next fall. He also said that the same policy would triple in cost the following year.

“This is putting people in a position where they are having to choose between their faith and their morality, and now an unjust cost,” Hernon said. “These sorts of regulations from the government are forcing our hand in a way that’s really wrong.”

Obviously, this will be problematic for the students who rely on the plan for their health care needs. In the fall, it will no longer be an option for these individuals. Despite the planned closure of the student health plan, faculty coverage will continue.

While this is going to be problematic for some students, Obama’s health care plan now allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years of age. Thus, many students will be able to take advantage of this coverage opportunity.

“We encourage you to decide how you are going to provide for accidents or illnesses requiring visits to physicians, health clinics or the hospital emergency room while you are a student here,” the school proclaims on its web site. Here are some other portions of the statement:

The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover “women’s health services” including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.

Additionally, the PPACA increased the mandated maximum coverage amount for student policies to $100,000 for the 2012-13 school year, which would effectively double your premium cost for the policy in fall 2012, with the expectation of further increases in the future.

Due to these changes in regulation by the federal government, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the University 1) will no longer require that all full-time undergraduate students carry health insurance, 2) will no longer offer a student health insurance plan, and 3) will no longer bill those not covered under a parent/guardian plan or personal plan for student health insurance. The current student health insurance plan will expire on August 15, 2012.

This is the latest development in the ongoing standoff between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church. The denomination, which contends that birth control is immoral, issued a 20-page warning on Tuesday to federal regulators. In the letter to officials, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pledged to sue the federal government if Congress does not intervene to prevent the mandate from going into effect.

“Absent prompt congressional attention to this infringement on fundamental civil liberties, we believe the only remaining recourse … is in the courts,” lawyers for the bishops wrote. “[Individual employers] can drop out of the health insurance marketplace altogether, or offer or provide the objectionable coverage.”

The Obama administration has made what it deems “accommodations” in light of the controversy surrounding the mandate, but the church argues that individual employers who object to birth control will still be forced to fund it. While most explicitly religious organizations will be exempt, Catholic business owners whose primary purpose isn’t faith-based will not be able to opt out. The bishops deem this unacceptable.

(H/T: Fox News)