Ave Maria drops student health insurance over HHS mandate
NAPLES, FLA. — Ave Maria University has become the second Catholic college to announce it will discontinue its student health insurance plan due to the Obama administration's contraception mandate.
In a May 21 statement, university president Jim Towey called the mandate "an affront to our core values."
"Ave Maria University will not offer or pay for health insurance plans that violate our deeply-held religious beliefs," he said.
The announcement comes amid continued controversy over a federal insurance mandate that will require employers and colleges to offer health care plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
The mandate has been widely criticized for the threat that it poses to religious freedom. Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable agencies have warned that they will be forced to consider closing their doors rather than comply with the mandate and act against the beliefs.
In choosing to cut its student health insurance plan, Ave Maria is following in the footsteps of Franciscan University of Steubenville, which also recently announced that it would be dropping its student policy to avoid participating in a plan that violated Catholic teaching.
Towey said it was "regrettable" that the "long-standing tradition" of protecting religious freedom was being fiercely attacked and that college students at religious institutions would be among the "first victims."
He explained that since its founding, Ave Maria University has offered its students an inexpensive health insurance policy, which specifically excludes coverage of products and procedures that violate Church teaching.
However, that changed when the university was recently notified by its insurance carrier that coverage of these objectionable "preventive care services" would soon be required despite the school's religious opposition to them.
In addition, the insurance carrier said that university students would face both a 66 percent increase in their premiums and an increase in their deductible as a result of requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
"It is a sad day when Ave Maria's students are forced to choose between enrolling in a health insurance plan that is both costly and offers morally objectionable benefits, and having no coverage at all," said Towey.
Ave Maria filed a lawsuit seeking relief from the mandate in February. Towey said he is confident in the favorable outcome of the suit and applauded the other Catholic groups that have joined in the effort of "taking this battle to the courts."
On May 21, a wave of new lawsuits against the mandate was announced. Forty-three Catholic dioceses and organizations across the country are filing lawsuits in 12 different jurisdictions.
Bishops from dioceses across the country have warned that the contraception mandate could threaten the valuable contribution offered by Catholic education, health care and social services in the U.S.
Towey also addressed this point, explaining that Ave Maria University offers scholarships and strives to make its education as affordable as possible for students.
"At a time when the issue of the affordability of college education is at the forefront of the public debate, the Federal government's mandate is hurting the cause, not helping," he said.
- Next >>
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Justin Martyr, patron of philosophers, honored June 1On June 1, one day before 2011's celebration of the Ascension of Christ, the Catholic Church honors the memory of the early Christian philosopher St. Justin Martyr. Justin was born around the year 100 in the Palestinian province of Samaria,...
Roman martyrs Sts. Marcellinus and Peter remembered June 2On June 2, the Catholic Church remembers two fourth-century martyrs, Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, who were highly venerated after the discovery of their tomb and the conversion of their executioner. Although the biographical details of these two martyrs...
St. Barnabas, 'son of encouragement' Feast day: June 11Catholics will celebrate the memory of St. Barnabas on June 11. The apostle and missionary was among Christ's earliest followers and was responsible for welcoming St. Paul into the Church. Though not one of the 12 apostles chosen by the Lord, Jesus, he...
St. Anthony of Padua, 'Hammer of Heretics,' honored June 13On June 13, Catholics honor the memory of the Franciscan priest St. Anthony of Padua. Although he is popularly invoked today by those who have trouble finding lost objects, he was known in his own day as the "Hammer of Heretics" due to the powerful...
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of AIDS patients, remembered June 21On June 21, the Church celebrates the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. St. Aloysius had a great desire to serve and know God as a young boy, but his family life was not always aligned with his desire. He was born into a noble Italian family and...
- Read the Catechism in a year: A little to read every day, emailed each morning during the Year of Faith
- USCCB: Stories, videos and more about the Year of Faith
- Annusfidei.va: Vatican's Year of Faith website
- Catholic Relief Services: Features and stories about Year of Faith
- My Year of Faith App: Daily prayers, reflections and thoughts
- Video Catechism for Teens: A free online resource for youths and young adults
- Weekly video series: “C4: Ignite Your Catholic Faith”
- OnceCatholic.org: Geared for people who have left their Catholic faith
- Explore the Sacraments: An 8-part video series on the Sacraments
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy