Catholic groups in Dubuque respond to health care mandate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Catholic groups in Dubuque respond to health care mandate

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The Affordable Care Act is causing a growing amount of buzz among Catholic organizations nationwide.

Under the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in March of 2011, most employers will soon be required to cover certain medical services.

Nan Colin is director of the Dubuque Visiting Nurse Association, where underinsured and uninsured people have access to care.

"Maybe they have catastrophic coverage and, therefore, what they have to pay out of pocket before the insurance kicks in is quite costly," she said.

Trouble with insurance, Colin said, can keep people from seeking even regular check-ups.

"Maybe their deductibles or their co-pays are high, and so that makes it more difficult for a person to get a chance to go to the doctor," she said.

In an effort to solve that, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Affordable Care Act, is requiring most insurance plans, starting in August of this year, to cover a wide range of services.

According to the HHS Website, that includes requiring, "most health insurance plans to cover preventative services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible."

Dr. Janine Idziak is a professor at Loras College. She is also director of the Bioethics Center at Loras and serves as a consultant to the Archdiocese of Dubuque for health care ethics and life issues.

She called the mandate, "an attack on our first amendment right to freedom of religion."

"The concern is with the mandate to cover sterilization and artificial contraception, whereas the Catholic tradition supports natural family planning," Idziak said Tuesday.

As the law now stands, religiously-affiliated colleges, such as Loras, will be required to cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception in its employees' insurance plans.

The mandate excludes certain non-profit religious employers, such as churches. The Government said religiously-affiliated schools and hospitals are not exempt.

"Catholic institutions do not feel that they can comply with a law which would mandate them to provide some health care services which we regard as morally impermissible," Idziak said.

Catholic organizations nationwide are now coming together to voice their concerns.

The HHS says on its Website, women will have freer access to contraceptives.

"Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn't include contraceptive services," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a media release on Jan. 20.

A spokesperson for the Dubuque Archdiocese said Archbishop Jerome Hanus is preparing a letter responding to the mandate, which will be published in the Archdiocese's official newspaper The Witness, dated Feb. 5.

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