A Second Catholic School May Nix Student Health Insurance Because of Obamacare

By Patrick Burke | May 17, 2012 | 11:48 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – Shortly after a Catholic college in Ohio announced plans to drop its student health insurance plan as a direct result of Obamacare, a second Catholic school, this one in Florida, said it may do the same thing.

Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., pointed to rising costs as well as the Obama administration requirement that most health insurance plans must provide free coverage of contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization.

"We're studying it right now," Ave Maria University President James Towey told Fox News on Wednesday. "My own sense is, I don't see ... how it makes sense for us to stay in this."

Ave Maria’s announcement comes days after Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, said it would drop its student health insurance plan when it expires in August.

The school’s health insurance plan has always excluded contraception and sterilization, so as not to violate the teachings of the Catholic Church. But the Democrats' health care law and its requirements would change that.

“When the HHS (contraceptive) mandate came out last fall, we were surprised that in this country, we would be somehow coerced by our government to go against our deeply held religious beliefs. And so we began to fight it, and we’ll continue to fight for our first freedoms—our religious liberty,” Michael Hernon, a Franciscan University vice president, told CNSNews.com.

Hernon also cited financial reasons for dropping the school’s health plan, saying that requirements for student policies outlined in the Democrat’s health care law  would cause premiums to increase exponentially.

“We found that we had other problems that were coming up as well. For our student health plans, we found out in March that the premiums that our students pay for this would actually double this year and likely triple in the coming years -- and (rise) even higher in the future,” said Hernon.

“For us, the decision was really straightforward, both from a moral and religious standpoint as well as an economic standpoint that we couldn’t continue providing and requiring our students to cover this health plan.”

Franciscan University of Steubenville has been cited as one of twenty one “faithfully Catholic universities” by the Cardinal Newman Society.

In August 2011, after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a mandate requiring virtually all health insurance plans to provide free contraceptive coverage as part of preventive services for women, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan circulated a letter in strict opposition to the HHS mandate.

The letter explicitly stated, “We cannot-- we will not-- comply with this unjust law.” Parts of this letter have been read in Catholic Churches across the country in recent months.

Following the vocal backlash, the Obama administration announced a “compromise” in February, but critics say it changes nothing, because the “compromise” is not included in the final rule.

Religious employers would still have their health insurance plans and premiums used for services they find morally objectionable, said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Also see:
Ave Maria University Sues HHS over Contraception Mandate (Feb. 21, 2012)