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May 16th, 2012
04:25 PM ET

College drops health care plan over religious objections to new law

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – A Catholic college in Ohio has apparently become the nation’s first to drop its health care plan because it opposes parts of the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

The Franciscan University of Steubenville posted on its website last week that it is discontinuing its health care plan.

“The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover ‘women’s health services’ including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the university says.

“We will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life,” the statement says.

The coverage includes emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, which can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, but not drugs like RU-486, which can end an early pregnancy.

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The school is also dropping its health insurance plan for students because the new health care law requires employers to provide more robust coverage, making it more expensive, said Tom Sofio, a spokesman for the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“It was our own moral reasons and then the rising cost of health care because of the act,” Sofio said, explaining the university’s decision.

Sofio said school officials are not aware of another college that has dropped its health insurance plan out of disagreements with the federal health care law.

A spokeswoman for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing three religious schools that are challenging the health care law, said that she was also unaware of another college that had taken such action.

A spokeswoman with the Health and Human Services Department, charged with implementing the new health care law, said Wednesday that the department had no comment on the school’s decision and that it does not keep track of changes to college health insurance plans.

The Obama administration faced a firestorm of controversy from many religious groups this year over a proposed rule that would require employers to provide no-cost contraception coverage to their employees.

In what it called a compromise, the White House revised the rule to require health insurance companies – not employers – to provide contraception coverage, mollifying some Catholic critics. Other Catholic groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are not satisfied by the revised rule.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of contraception.

“We’re paying the health insurance company, and if they provide abortion-causing drugs, that’s against our religious beliefs,” Sofio said Wednesday.

About 200 of the Franciscan University of Steubenville's 2,500 students rely on the university health care plan, which costs about $50 a month, Sofio said. He said the school is retaining its health care plan for employees because it is hopeful that legal challenges to the health care law will prevent much of it from taking effect.

Sofio said that the school sent letters about its decision to students and parents in April and that it has received overwhelming support from both constituencies. Ninety-five percent of students at the university are Catholic, he said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Politics

soundoff (1,561 Responses)
  1. Doubter

    I have a question for all of you bible thumpers. When was the last time religion cured a disease? Why would you worship a god that sits back and allows children to die a slow painful death (cancer, HIV, pneumonia, etc) but answers your petty prayers for things like a raise at work, a new car, etc? Why doesn't he punish the priests that touch little boys? Not one of them has been struck with lighting. Doesn't it all seem like maybe the whole religion thing is made up? Did you ever think that maybe its just an ancient scam? How much money are Catholics required to send to the Church? 10% 15% More? How many of you know that Jesus isn't the first "God" to be born on December 25th to a virgin mother? Why is Jesus real but Zeus isn't? What about all the natives from South and Central America, why aren't their gods real? What about all the Gods fromt he Ancient world, believe me, there were a ton! Did you ever think that maybe religion is the product of a fundamental human flaw? Almost every civilization that ever existed had a god, but for some reason, they are all wrong and you are right. I call BS. All religion is fake. If at some point it can be proven, then by all means, believe it. But as of right now, there isn't a shred of evidence that any of it is real. In fact, most of the stories in the bible are pretty far fetched. A talking snake? C'mon people. Think about it. Not only is it impossible for a snake to talk as they don't have vocal cords, they also don't have a brain large enough to comprehend language. It sure is funny how all these magical things happened in ancient times. Why don't those things happen now? Maybe it's a myth? Think about it.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Brooklyn Boy

      Hey Doubter,
      That's not fair. You want religious people to actually start thinking! They might hurt themselves.

      May 17, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • jake

      "Almost every civilization that ever existed had a god"

      .... which MIGHT indicate that there is a reason humans feel the need to worship, but as you are all-knowing, you know that that is a simple explainations that has to do with 'psycology and stuff....'

      May 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      Even the "religious" know its fake they just feel a comfort in keeping the religious traditions on or are afraid of what others may say...but of course they know its all BS

      May 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Janine from TX

      You are making far too much sense here, but thank you!

      May 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • magic man in the sky

      Hey, "the world is better off" what you are saying is that we already have free health care for everyone and that it rides on the backs of the insured? (the answer is "yes" and it's what makes your medical costs go up and up and up.)

      May 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • coloradom

      If it were a myth, would it matter? What's the harm to you? Sure, those who are "religious" generally have a different view of life and some try to live in the way they think they should. There are even the few radicals out there who really want to do harm. If you think about it, peoples moral views come from a variety of places. Is it such a bad thing to "love your neighbor"? At least in Christianity, if people who claimed to be Christians actually practiced what they believed, things would be a lot different. The problem is, in this nation, many claim, but few actually live it out. So a Catholic church believes that birth control shouldn't be paid for by them. So what? If you don't like it, you can either get another job or buy the birth control on your own.

      May 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  2. Phil

    No birth control or family planing allowed, but we are open to male child abusers...

    May 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • The world is better off

      Male abusers are offensive. Female abusers... that's just a bad habit 😉

      May 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  3. mms55

    its called cutting off your nose to spite your face lol.so what if their employees aren't catholic?isn't that kinda stepping on their rights?who do they think they are god?

    May 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Bobby

      Where does it say insurance is RIGHT? Where, find it, show me.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Milo daimen

      There is a reason why its called a benefit. Companies offer all sorts of "benefits" if you work for them. This is not something that they have to do. An employer can simply cut the staff to part time, use mandatory overtime and drop it all together. Your about too see America switch to the temp job agency's for all jobs. That's just good business. Then where will you get your morning after pill? Oh by the way that will include all medical coverage....

      May 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • momoya

      Correct.. Insurance isn't a right but a benefit.. The college does not have to offer it to their students.. It's the timing and the reason that expose how fvcked up this college is because of its stupid myth adherence.. They have the right to discontinue the insurance, but the way in which they did it proves that they're azzholes.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • magic man in the sky

      "who do they tyhink they are, God?" No. But they say they know him really well.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • victoria

      Milo damien–you can get the morning after pill at the pharmacy. no insurance required. pick something else idiot

      May 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • sarah

      The law says in order to provide insurance, you must provide it fairly. If you can't do that, then you can't have an insurance plan. Simple. Still a free choice. If the school thinks that prayer is enough to protect them from medical disaster, so be it. I hope all the ones who want insurance can find a new position soon.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  4. t3chn0ph0b3

    Denying afforable healthcare to kids. Real Christian of them.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • bobincal

      Kids are the healthiest segment of our society and the least likely to need insurance.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • momoya

      What in the world has that to do with t3chno's point?

      May 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • The world is better off

      They're also some of the most accident prone and most likely to get pregnant. This is a university 18+ are not "kids".

      May 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • neil

      Well, with Oblamas law, the PARENTS of those "Kids" can cover them. Let the parents pick up the tab, or better yet, if take the risk, let them pay for the "Services".

      May 17, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  5. bobincal

    If the college cuts student fees and pays employees the amount required for them to get their own policies, the problem should be solved for all concerned. They can either buy a policy or be self- insured. Employers are not required to provide insurance to anyone.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Neeneko

      Self insurance just isn't the same. There are lots of things that you can ONLY get through group insurance, so even if they gave their employees extra cash they would not be able to get the same coverage.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • asdf

      That would be great if we lived in Candyland or Narnia where you can get private health insurance for less than an exorbitant price.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Brad

      That's not entirely true... By the end of the year if you have full time within a specific classification, you will need to at least offer health insurance.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  6. MyTake

    They believe invisible beings affect their lives and after they are dead ... who cares. If they get sick enough they will find a way to pay for it.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • The world is better off

      No they won't, they'll just use the emergency room, NOT pay, and then make people with insurance cover the costs. Stupid, religious idiots. Tell you what, if you really have faith, don't ever see a doctor again. Don't take medication. Just pray. PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY. The world is better off without you.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • momoya

      Agreed.. And if you think science has got evolution wrong, then don't use anything that's even associated with technology.. Enough of this bullsh!t where you want to criticize everything except your religion and then go take advantage of all the breakthroughs in medical science and technology.. If your god can supply your every need than go to an island and let him and quit using up the worlds resources..

      May 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  7. Rev. Schaeffer

    Hail Steubenville, Alma Mater! [Biology(pre-med)/Theology]

    If you don't like it, go somewhere else. It's a free country.

    The Lord bless you and keep you.
    May He show His face to you and have mercy.
    May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
    The Lord bless you!

    May 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • momoya

      Thanks Rev! It is a free country.. We're free to mock stupid bigots like Catholics and their schools that try to subvert the law.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • denim

      @momoya that's not very nice. Not all Catholics are bad. I've met a few good ones.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • momoya

      I'm sick and tired of being nice to religious freaks.. They should be mocked.. Continuously.. That's what you get when you believe in invisible diseases and body parts and realms and gods who claim to be all-powerful but act like little pizzy babies.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • The world is better off

      Good thing you got that Theology major... because your Alma Mater is KILLING your pre-med business.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Milo daimen

      @ momoya and I'm tired of you shoving your left wing agenda on me. I dont want it and I don't like it. You are the reason the country is in the shape its in. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. Get a job and get off my dime! I am tired of paying your way.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • momoya

      Milo, you don't know my political views.. Stop assuming.. I just think that this college showed how fvcked up they are way up at the top. with this move.. It was their choice, and I'm glad they made it.. It shows them for what they really are–azzholes.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Donna

      Thank you so much for that, "Reverend". A few questions, though, how is the lord showing his countenance and blessings to the young abuse victims at the hands of the likes of you? How did he show his blessings to victims of the Holocaust? How did he show his blessings to the poor slaves at the hands of "Christian" slaveholders? I think it's best if you go crawl under a rock and stay there, as what you preach and how you live your life is certainly not Christ-like, no matter what you think.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Jerkamuffin

      The world is better off:

      I literally LOLed at your comment.

      ....and what can you do with a Theology major? Teach theology?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Janine from TX

      People pay good money to major in something like "theology"? Seriously, what does a person do with a degree like that? Seems fairly useless, no?

      May 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  8. Mark Yelka

    They're putting on an act. They were going to cancel the insurance anyway. They just are using this as an excuse and to deflect blame. This is how big business works... it treats people like egg-laying hens. They want students for their money, but they want to give them chicken feed in return.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  9. Atheist Hunter

    Well, hello to all our bratty atheists who continue to displace their aggressions on their poor religious patsies. You think for a second that this religious college dropped their healthcare plan only because they were offended at having to pay for Ortho Evra?

    http://dpc.senate.gov/healthreformbill/healthbill04.pdf

    The more you read it, the more the word "responsibility" pops up. You'll also see "percentage, shared, contribution, and required (as in, gulp, mandate" too. And what an interesting little time line for all these "responsibilities" to show up. I wonder if your employer will be continuing your wonderful Blue Cross coverage? Or will you be getting a little pastel-blue payroll stuffer with some bad news? Or maybe you'll just get a little pat-on-the-ass speech from your union.

    Yep kiddies, it's all about the Catholics, at least until it happens to you. But don't lose any sleep. It'll soon all be over like a bad dream. Hope you didn't all wet your beds.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • momoya

      So just more of the same blathering stupidity from you as always?!?! Who couldn't have predicted that?

      May 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • asdf

      "Well, hello to all our bratty atheists who continue to displace their aggressions on their poor religious patsies."

      They must not have covered irony or hypocrisy in the Bible, I take it.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  10. momoya

    Who can do some quick research and see if this college's medical plan used to cover viagra and other such medications?

    May 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • catholicteen

      Viagra heals/stops a disease or dysfunction. Birth control does not. It alters a healthy body's normal functioning.

      May 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • NoBS

      @catholicteen: Poor, impressionable young sucker. Your brainwashing has been successful, apparently. To take ANY pill for ANY reason or effect is altering the body's "natural" function. If you think that birth control doesn't provide a benefit, such as alleviation of menstrual migraines, endometriosis, PMDD, and prevention of menorrhagia, then your nose has been buried in the wrong book for far too long. Go ahead and stick to your "natural" healing and don't ever take another medication again...just let your body run it's course! After all, medicine and science are just illusions that idiots conjured up, right?

      May 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  11. Natfka

    This will start happening across the country, as companies are not able to insure their employees as well. Obama is insuring that more americanas are uninsured.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • sam

      Americanas?

      May 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Al

      Go ahead and drop your own health insurance. Look at all the money you'll save. Great decision.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Neeneko

      That is what small business gets for supporting the anti-business GoP.. the same GoP that when buisness was asking for universal health care killed the bill at the behest of insurance companies, then they supported the GoP gutting and making this bill useless.. now they get to reap what they sowed with this broken compromise of a bill.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  12. Karm99

    Once again the Religious Right along with their Conservative Right brethren prove that their self-serving views supersede logic, rational or just plain common sense.

    What is next, will they be putting a gun against their head and pulling the trigger just to show they stand up for the Second Amendment?

    May 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • momoya

      We can only hope.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  13. Truph

    god isn't real

    May 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  14. Fred Evil

    Forget your healthcare, we have to save up to defend our pedophile priests!
    The Catholic church is dead.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Dave

    The Catholic Church doesn't like contraception but they sure don't have a problem protecting child molesters. Sick.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • mauibucky

      If they want to do a meaningful protest, why don;t they give up their tax-exempt status?

      May 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  16. sctrojan90

    Basically this is a non-issue. Obamacare allows students to be on their parent's health insurance until the age of 26. Most people should graduate college unless you're a retard by the age of 26.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • sam

      True. And if they annoy their employees too much with this, the employees will go elsewhere.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • momoya

      Not all students are young adults living with mom and dad..

      May 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • dmbader

      unless your parents can't afford health insurance...

      May 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  17. PraiseTheLard

    They don't need no stinkin' health plan... they have god to heal everyone...

    May 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • KASUMU

      LOL!!

      The Church is trying to "decide" for every "Christian", what is appropriate for their live. They, the Church, are making this a bigger issue than it needs to be. If the Church was a good spiritual leader, they would not have to force their congregations into doing what the church wants them to, they would all fall in line. But when your views are so narrow, I suppose they feel like they must force their congregations into doing what the church leaders want them to do....hmmm remind you of another religion....just say Allah.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  18. adam

    Apparently prayer is a much cheaper health care plan.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  19. HS

    Lol, let them suffer for Christ

    May 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  20. Richard

    Say goodbye to your employees and students. Then you'll change your mind.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Natfka

      your right, because insurance is the first thing on the mind of students..... lol

      May 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • momoya

      Certainly not on the mind of students who've choseen this stupid piece of sh!t college.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      Please.. do you think the students who would go to a "college" like this have a brain anyway. They are a bunch of religious nutcases anyway

      May 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • dmbader

      Natfka, you're right insurance typically isn't on the mind of students. However thanks to CNN, it now is

      May 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.