Catholic Group Files Complaint Over Calif. Abortion Coverage Rules
On Tuesday, the California Catholic Conference filed a federal civil-rights complaint over a requirement that the state's insurers must provide abortion coverage, the AP/Wall Street Journal reports (AP/Wall Street Journal, 10/1).
The group includes:
- Archbishops in Los Angeles and San Francisco; and
- Bishops in Fresno, Monterey, Oakland, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Stockton (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/1).
In August, the California Department of Managed Health Care sent a letter to seven insurers mandating that all group plans in the state include coverage for elective abortions as a medically necessary procedure.
The letter came after two Catholic universities in California -- Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University -- changed their employer health insurance policies to no longer cover abortions unless they are necessary to protect a woman's health (California Healthline, 8/25).
Details of Complaint
In the complaint, CCC alleges that DMHC violated the Weldon Amendment, which permits the federal government to withhold funding from agencies, state or local government and other programs found to be discriminating against insurers -- as well as hospitals and physicians -- that do not provide abortion coverage (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/1).
The complaint also alleges that the administrative order directly targeted Catholic institutions.
Bishop Robert McElroy, chair of CCC's Institutional Concerns Committee, said, "It is a flagrant violation of [Catholic institutions'] civil rights and deepest moral convictions and is government coercion of the worst kind" (Payers & Providers, 10/2).
Rachel Seeger, a spokesperson for HHS' Office for Civil Rights, said the complaint is currently under review (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.