Suit challenges HHS mandate on social justice grounds
By Adelaide Mena
Credit: Jess Hamilton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Credit: Jess Hamilton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

.- The owner of a U.S. manufacturing business is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court over the HHS mandate, both because it violates his religious beliefs and because it interferes with his ability to treat his workers justly.

“I've never checked my faith at the door when I walked into the for-profit business arena” John Kennedy, owner of Autocam, told CNA Oct. 8, explaining that the company's generous health care benefits are “part of our mission as employers … to treat our employees justly.”

Autocam is an automotive and medical tool manufacturer based in Michigan and owned by a Catholic family. The company currently employs around 600 people in the United States, and will face fines of about $16 million a year if it fails to comply with the HHS mandate.

The mandate was issued under the Affordable Care Act and requires employers to provide and pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs and procedures in employee health insurance plans, even if doing so violates the employer's conscience or religious beliefs.

The family had filed suit against the federal government, and the case was dismissed by the sixth circuit appeals court on Sept. 17. The Kennedys have announced they will appeal the dismissal to the Supreme Court.

Kennedy explained that while he and his family object as Catholics to the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, his ability to provide the best possible care for his employees is also of grave concern.

“When you start talking about compelling interest” for the governmental intrusion into his company's health care policy, “what we provide is so outside the norm,” he said.

Employees at Autocam earn an average of $53,000 a year, the “higher end” of skilled work, Kennedy explained, in addition to receiving a generous health benefits package. All employees are enrolled in Autocam's self-insured Health Savings Account, and Autocam contributes $1,500 towards employees’ $4,000 deductible.

In addition, “we pay 100 percent of all of the preventative medicine” for employees, as well as any medical expenses over $4,000, Kennedy explained. The health plan is less expensive for both the employer and the employees than the national average, and employees pay no premiums.

Furthermore, the plan does not block access to the products and procedures mandated under the HHS mandate – it simply does not pay for them explicitly and directly.

The Health Savings Account that Autocam provides can be used on a variety of health services, which are chosen at the employee’s discretion, and can include contraceptives, but those products are not paid for directly by Kennedy himself, nor by his self-insured plan. 

“I don't know who's using their debit card for what,” Kennedy said.

The program's generous benefits “were designed with the idea that we're blessed with the service of our employees, so we need to make sure that they're properly taken care of.”

“We did that because it is the right thing to do – treating the employees justly.”

However, the federal government has told Kennedy that “I, as a director of a company, do not have the right to have any religious or value system while inside a business.”

In arguments before the appellate court, Kennedy said he has “been given three options by the government.”

The first was to “cooperate,” violating his conscience and directly providing and paying for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilizations.

The second option that the government offered was to “terminate my plan,” simply dropping coverage, he continued.

“From a social justice standpoint, that would not be the right thing” to do, Kennedy said, because the employees would be paying more and receiving poorer health care.

The last option is to maintain an insurance plan while refusing to comply in providing the objectionable products and services, risking up to $16 million in fines per year.

Telling business owners to “separate” their religious beliefs and view of justice from their businesses is troubling, Kennedy said.

“Think about the impact the Catholic social justice call has had on society,” he continued, noting that if religious beliefs about social justice were isolated from the public square, many public hospitals, universities and other services would not exist.

“I don't think we want that,” he said.

Tags: Contraception mandate, Religious freedom, Social Justice

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: