Archdiocese of Washington explains the impact of the HHS mandate

Many Catholic and Protestant organizations have filed lawsuits against the Obama administration over the HHS mandate.  In response to some of these lawsuits, the administration filed a brief asking the courts to dismiss the lawsuits.  The grounds for the requested dismissal was that the organizations have not suffered any harm, since the mandate doesn’t go into effect for organizations under the “safe harbor” until August 2013. 

Catholic organizations affected by this requested dismissal have responded, describing the imminent harm caused by the HHS mandate.  In particular, the Archdiocese of Washington had this to say:

The impact of the mandate will be so severe that the archdiocese and other Catholic organizations are being forced to consider the impossible choices the government has given us.

 

The archdiocese said that it could

…continue to offer health insurance to our employees and their dependents, except coverage for drugs and procedures that violate our religious beliefs (as we have always been permitted to do under the law until now). If so, the Government could force us to pay a penalty of $100 a day per covered individual (employees and dependents). With about 4,000 people currently enjoying excellent archdiocesan health care coverage, the archdiocese could incur devastating penalties as high as nearly $145 million per year, simply for practicing our faith.

Alternatively, the archdiocese could

…drop health insurance benefits for archdiocesan employees and their dependents altogether, and face a potential fine of more than $4 million per year in fines for the privilege of practicing our faith. This option would leave many employees and their families uninsured or underinsured with little time to adjust and find affordable, quality alternatives.

The archdiocese also said:

Either scenario is unthinkable, and planning for such action is itself a grave burden, but in either case the mandate’s impact would be so severe that the archdiocese must begin to prepare now. Ignoring the burdens that the mandate has already placed on the archdiocese, the government contends that the archdiocese has not yet suffered any injury sufficient to confer legal standing to challenge the mandate, and that the administration’s expressions of intent to amend the mandate make the case “unripe” for review. But the administration’s promises are not the law – only the mandate is.

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