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Posted on Apr 3, 2012 |

UPDATE: XU to Change Insurance Coverage

UPDATE: XU to Change Insurance Coverage

Xavier University’s Fenwick Place

UPDATE: Xavier University later changed its insurance policy back to the original policy, which covered the disputed items, without announcing it publicly.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that beginning July 1, Xavier University’s employee medical insurance will cover sterilization and contraception only to treat medical conditions.

A letter to university employees from university president Fr. Michael Graham, SJ, and obtained by the newspaper explains the change. After reviewing XU’s insurance policies and comparing them with those of other Catholic institutions, Fr. Graham says he decided that “absent a legal mandate, it is inconsistent for a Catholic institution to cover those drugs and procedures the Church opposes.”

The Enquirer story says the letter dated April 2 is on the University’s web site. XU communications staff confirms that the letter on the Enquirer’s site is genuine, but that it was posted on the employees-only section of the XU site and never available to the public.

Every bishop in the United States has spoken out against the new HHS mandate that would require nearly all employers (ncluding hospitals, charities, and schools run by religious organizations) to provide insurance coverage for sterilization, contraception, and “morning after” abortifacients for any reason and without copays, after re-classifying them as “preventative care.” The bishops say this mandate would violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

Public scrutiny of insurance coverage for these drugs and procedures has revealed that Catholic institutions across the country have not applied Catholic teaching to purchasing insurance in a consistent way. See the USCCB web site for more information about the theological, medical, and constitutional issues.

UPDATE: Wednesday’s Enquirer quotes extensively from another private letter provided to its editors, this one from faculty member Shannon Byrne that invites university employees to a meeting April 12. The Enquirer’s story consists mostly of portions of the letter, raising questions (“Is it legal to cut off employees’ insurance coverage for birth control?”) without interviewing anyone to answer any of them. In the letter, Byrne acknowledged the teachings of US bishops, but says that the committee she chairs “must convey our displeasure at the fact that you bypassed shared governance in this decision-making process.” At the time of this post, the Enquirer link to Byrne’s letter does not work.