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Employers challenge contraception requirement

By - Last modified: December 13, 2012 at 8:51 AM

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Heather Stauffer

A Lancaster County company has joined the ranks of businesses challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contraception requirement.

The requirement, which started phasing in Aug. 1, does not apply to religious employers – those that have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose, primarily employ those who share their religious tenets, primarily serve those who share their religious tenets and are nonprofits under Internal Revenue Code section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii).

Conestoga Wood Specialties, based in East Earl, doesn't fit that description and will be required to provide insurance coverage for what its attorneys, Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center, term "abortion-inducing drugs" when its new health plan starts Jan. 1.

Conestoga has filed a civil suit challenging the mandate based on the First and Fifth Amendments and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"Being told that we must provide a health plan that includes a provision that violates the Christian beliefs of our family and the Christian values that our company was founded on is deeply troubling," said Conestoga president and CEO Anthony Hahn in an online statement. "Forcing Americans to surrender long-standing, deeply-held principles in order to own and run a business is not merely troubling but unnecessary and unconstitutional."

Similar lawsuits have been filed by Hobby Lobby, Tyndale House Publishers and Liberty University.

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Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital is taking part in what has been billed "the first-ever crowdfunded hospital gift catalog," www.givemiracles.org.

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On Monday, a 1.5 T GE Optima HR 450W open MRI was installed at Holy Spirit Health System's Mechanicsburg Center through the roof via a crane.

Holy Spirit said the system is the first of its kind in the area, with nearly 40 percent more room than other open MRI systems. It can accommodate patients up to 500 pounds and will be available for use in January.

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A health insurance tax beginning in 2014 will raise the cost of health insurance premiums 1.9 to 2.3 percent in its first year, according to recent analysis by Oliver Wyman for America's Health Insurance Plans.

The higher figure is based on a model in which more employers choose self-insurance, which is not subject to the tax. According to the report, 54.7 percent of the commercial insurance market is fully insured in Pennsylvania, with 45.3 percent classifying as self-insured. The national averages are 46.5 and 53.5 percent, respectively.

The tax is to raise $8 billion in 2014, $14.3 billion in 2018 and increase at the same rate as premiums thereafter. The funds will be used for federal and state health insurance exchanges.

The analysis estimates the cost to Pennsylvania health insurers over 10 years at $8.97 billion to $9.05 billion, and additional single premiums over 10 years at $2,171 in the individual, $2,794 in the small-group and $2,636 in the large-group market.

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Finally, a different assessment on insurance has been dubbed the "sleeper" fee, because cost details were just recently released.

It consists of an annual per-covered-person fee on major medical coverage to be paid by insurers and by administrators of self-insured plans from 2014-16. It is to start at $63 in 2014 and is designed to raise a total of $25 billion to help stabilize the market in the first three years under the new market conditions.

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits and health care. You can reach her at 717-285-4237, 717-236-4300, ext. 289, or heathers@centralpennbusiness.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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