Dec 17, 2013

NY District Court strikes down Obamacare. Catholic Archdiocese of NY wins!

Commentary at

Judgment excerpt.

COGAN, District Judge.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the "ACA"), Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010), requires that group health insurance plans cover certain preventative medical services without cost-sharing, such as a copayment or a deductible. Pursuant to regulations subsequently issued, the preventative services that must be covered include contraception, sterilization, and related counseling (the "Coverage Mandate" or "Mandate"). Certain religious employers, primarily churches, are exempt from this requirement. Further, the Government has recently promulgated regulations that seek to accommodate the religious objections of "eligible organizations," namely religious non-profits. Under this accommodation, "eligible organizations" do not have to pay for a health plan that covers contraceptive services; instead, an eligible organization must provide its issuer or third party administrator ("TPA") with a self-certification form stating its objection to the Mandate on religious grounds. The issuer or TPA is

Case 1:12-cv-02542-BMC Document 116 Filed 12/16/13 Page 1 of 41 PageID #: 3985

then required to provide contraceptive coverage without charging the eligible organization any fees or premiums, and without imposing any cost-sharing on the beneficiary.

Plaintiffs are six New York-area organizations affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Plaintiffs state that their Catholic beliefs prohibit them from providing, subsidizing, facilitating, or sponsoring the provision of contraception, sterilization, or abortion-inducing products and services. The Mandate, they argue, requires them to violate these core religious beliefs, regardless of the exemption for religious employers or the accommodation for eligible organizations. Plaintiffs bring claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") and Administrative Procedures Act, as well as under the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Free Speech clauses of the First Amendment.

Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment as to all of their claims, seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against enforcement of the Mandate against them. Defendants have cross-moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on their RFRA claims is granted in part and denied in part, and defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

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