USCCB Responds To Inaccurate Statement Of Fact On HHS Mandate Made During Vice Presidential Debate

October 12, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12. Full text follows:

Last night, the following statement wasmade during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employersto include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion,in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church,let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic orotherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercyhospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to payfor contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate containsa narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemptionwas made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services,Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charitythat offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation"for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as"non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve theseorganizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be avehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, becausethey will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, andthat coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, andabortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums thatthe organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still beapplied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs andsurgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in thestrongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements onreligious freedom imposed by the mandate.

For more details, please see USCCB'sregulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed "accommodation": www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf

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Keywords: vice presidential debate, HHSmandate, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, insurance plans,Catholic hospitals, charities, social services, sterilization, contraception,religious liberty, USCCB

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MEDIA CONTACTONLY:Don ClemmerO: 202-541-3206Email