On July 1, 2014, the Catholic Benefits Association and the Catholic Insurance Company filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The Catholic Benefits Association is an association of Catholic nonprofit and closely held for-profit employers that provide ...
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On July 1, 2014, the Catholic Benefits Association and the Catholic Insurance Company filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The Catholic Benefits Association is an association of Catholic nonprofit and closely held for-profit employers that provide health benefits to their employees, and the Catholic Insurance Company, Inc., sells stop-loss insurance to some of these employers who self-fund their insurance plans. The plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and related agencies' enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) contraceptive services mandate ('mandate') violated the plaintiffs' rights under the the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and violated the Administrative Procedures Act. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that notifying HHS of their religious objection to contraception started a chain of events that ended with their employees receiving contraceptive services. The plaintiffs claimed this violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Free Exercise, Establishment, and Free Speech clauses of the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedures Act.
On December 29, 2014, the court granted the Catholic Benefits Association a preliminary injunction against federal enforcement of the mandate for their current members who were nonprofit religious employers and for current members who were non-exempt closely held for-profit employers. 81 F.Supp.3d. 1269 (W.D. Oka. 2014). The court did not provide preliminary injunctive relief for future members of the association, for employers that met the ACA definition of religious employer and are exempt from mandate, or for the Catholic Insurance Company.
The same plaintiffs had filed an earlier suit, The Catholic Benefits Ass'n v. Sebelius, No. 5:14-cv-00240-R (W.D. Okla. June 4, 2014), which had resulted in an injunction for their nonprofit and closely held for-profit member employers at the time. They filed an additional motion to add employers who joined the association following that date, but it was denied. The current suit is to add those members to the injunction. The court in the preceding case also ruled that the Catholic Insurance Company did not have standing to sue in its own right.
On March 17, 2015, the Tenth Circuit granted the government's unopposed motion to hold this case and related appeals in abeyance pending resolution of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell (FA-CO-0006
), Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell (FA-OK-0005
), and Reaching Souls International v. Burwell (FA-OK-0002
).Kate Craddock - 10/11/2015