An Illinois-based Catholic hospital system will only cover fertility treatments for married heterosexual employees, Bloomberg Law reported.
While many health plans that cover fertility treatment services use the CDC’s definition of infertility, which refers to a person being unable to get pregnant after at least a year of unprotected sex, OSF HealthCare limited their definition of infertility to “the inability for a married couple of opposite sex spouses to conceive” and said their fertility coverage seeks to assist married heterosexual employees trying to have a child.
Some lawyers are saying that the new OSF HealthCare coverage policy, which explicitly denies employees coverage based on their sexual orientation violates federal discrimination laws, according to Bloomberg Law.
Attorney Noel León said she had not heard of a policy “so explicit” in excluding same-sex couples. Another attorney, Peter Romer-Friedman said that the policy is a “pretty clear violation” of federal workplace discrimination law.
However, Matt Bowman, an attorney for the Christian legal advocacy group, ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’ said the hospital system has every right to deny fertility coverage to LGBTQ employees.
“The government cannot force religious health care providers to violate their beliefs,” Bowman said. “Even if government officials disagree with the beliefs of a Catholic health care entity, the organization still has the freedom to provide insurance policies and health care services consistent with its convictions.”
OSF HealthCare employs more than 24,000 people at 15 hospitals and 132 other facilities in Illinois and Michigan. The hospital chain is owned by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, a Roman Catholic organization in Peoria, Ill.
A spokesperson for OSF HealthCare said in a statement: “The employee benefits we provide are driven by the OSF Mission and are in full compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services as well as state and federal laws, including the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.”