The Catholic University of America

 

Welcome to the Religion Section of our webpage. This front page will reflect our most current information on either constitutional law or statutory law on religion affecting educational institutions. 

Final Rule, Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority, 84 Fed. Reg. 23170, May 21, 2019
This rule is effective July 22, 2019. This final rule revises existing regulations to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal conscience and anti-discrimination laws (such as the Weldon Amendment) applicable to the Department, its programs, and recipients of HHS funds, and to delegate overall enforcement and compliance responsibility to the Department's Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). The rules provide enforcement mechanisms for a number of already existing Conscience Laws, which generally protect the rights of health care entities and providers (including student interns) to not take part in abortions, sterilization, assisted suicide and other actions that might burden the exercise of religious beliefs. One of the existing regulations also applies to accreditation of postgraduate physician training programs. OCR may conduct compliance reviews. 

The rules affect health care entities that receive federal financial assistance, including direct recipients and subrecpients, universities that provide health care training, state and local governments, and individuals and entities receiving taxpayer dollars from HHS or through its programs. The final rule requires recordkeeping, certifications, and cooperation with OCR. See also New Conscience Rules for Health Care Providers, by National Law Review, May 21, 2019

Consensus Language 34 CFR Faith-Based Entities General PDF (115K) (part of the negotiated rulemaking process. This means DOE must use the consensus draft as the basis for the rules it will now promulgate. See Negotiated Rulemaking for Higher Education 2018-2019. See also the summary on the HHS web page, including a fact sheet on the rule

Final RuleReligious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 83 Fed. Reg. 57536, Nov. 15, 2018, issued jointly by IRS, DOL, and HHS. 

These rules expand exemptions to protect religious beliefs for certain entities (including institutions of higher education) and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. These rules treat the plans of institutions of higher education that arrange student health insurance coverage similarly to the way in which the rules treat the plans of employers. These rules do so by making such student health plans eligible for the expanded exemptions, and by permitting them the option of electing to utilize the accommodation process. Thus, these rules specify, in Sec. 147.132(a)(1)(iii), that the exemption is extended, in the case of institutions of higher education (as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1002) with objections to the Mandate based on sincerely held religious beliefs, to their arrangement of student health insurance overage in a manner comparable to the applicability of the exemption for group health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan established or maintained by a plan sponsor that is an employer.

On Janurary 14th, 2019 the regulation at Sec. 147.132(a)(1) will read as follows: 

(1) Guidelines issued under § 147.130(a)(1)(iv) by the Health Resources and Services Administration must not provide for or support the requirement of coverage or payments for contraceptive services with respect to a group health plan established or maintained by an objecting organization, or health insurance coverage offered or arranged by an objecting organization, to the extent of the objections specified below. Thus the Health Resources and Service Administration will exempt from any guidelines' requirements that relate to the provision of contraceptive services:
(i) A group health plan and health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan to the extent the non-governmental plan sponsor objects as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. Such non-governmental plan sponsors include, but are not limited to, the following entities—
(A) A church, an integrated auxiliary of a church, a convention or association of churches, or a religious order.
(B) A nonprofit organization.
(C) A closely held for-profit entity.
(D) A for-profit entity that is not closely held.
(E) Any other non-governmental employer.

(ii) A group health plan, and health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan, where the plan or coverage is established or maintained by a church, an integrated auxiliary of a church, a convention or association of churches, a religious order, a nonprofit organization, or other non-governmental organization or association, to the extent the plan sponsor responsible for establishing and/or maintaining the plan objects as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The exemption in this paragraph applies to each employer, organization, or plan sponsor that adopts the plan;

(iii) An institution of higher education as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1002, which is non-governmental, in its arrangement of student health insurance coverage, to the extent that institution objects as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. In the case of student health insurance coverage, this section is applicable in a manner comparable to its applicability to group health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan established or maintained by a plan sponsor that is an employer, and references to “plan participants and beneficiaries” will be interpreted as references to student enrollees and their covered dependents; and

(iv) A health insurance issuer offering group or individual insurance coverage to the extent the issuer objects as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. Where a health insurance issuer providing group health insurance coverage is exempt under this subparagraph (iv), the group health plan established or maintained by the plan sponsor with which the health insurance issuer contracts remains subject to any requirement to provide coverage for contraceptive services under Guidelines issued under § 147.130(a)(1)(iv) unless it is also exempt from that requirement.

A complementary final rule for Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the ACA was published at 83 Fed. Reg. 57592 on Nov. 15th.

HHS has issued a Fact Sheet on these final Rules. 

OFCCP Directive 2018-03 on Religous Exemption to EO 11246 sec. 204(c)*

Issued August 10, 2018.  OFCCP staff are reminded that they must not "act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices," "cannot condition the availability of [opportunities] upon a recipient's willingness" to forgo their religious status, and must give faith-based and community organizations a level playing field to compete for federal contracts. These rules also leave in place an ‘‘accommodation’’ process as an optional process for certain exempt entities that wish to use it voluntaril