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Notre Dame ends free contraceptive coverage

Associated Press

South Bend, Ind.— The University of Notre Dame is ending no-cost contraceptive coverage for employees and students.

The South Bend Tribune reports that an email sent by the Catholic university to faculty and staff on Friday shows that coverage will end for employees on Jan. 1. Students under the school’s insurance plan, which provides contraceptives at no-cost through Aetna Student Health, will be covered until Aug. 14.

The announcement follows President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back the Affordable Care Act rule that requires employers to offer birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

Three organizations that have been closely monitoring the birth-control debate — Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Women’s Law Center — told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they knew of no other major institution that had taken the same step following Trump’s decision earlier this month.

Notre Dame previously offered coverage through third-party administrator Meritain Health and prescription benefit manager OptumRX, which allowed the university to meet the federal health care law’s requirement while maintaining its religious opposition to contraceptives.

The university had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the mandate on religious grounds. That case was voluntarily dismissed on Oct. 17, after the Trump administration removed the requirement.

The university’s medical plan will cover contraceptives if they’re used to treat a specific medical condition and not as a method to prevent pregnancy. Those medications will come with standard prescription copayments.

School employees are allowed to use their own funds in Flexible Spending Accounts to pay for birth control medication, university officials said.

Graduate student Louise Williams, who uses birth control pills for medical reasons, said she’s worried she’ll have to use money from her small graduate school stipend if the insurance company doesn’t accept the medical reasons her physician provides.

A nearby Planned Parenthood clinic could be an alternative option for students looking for birth control.

Planned Parenthood has launched a campaign that urges employers to publically commit to continuing birth control coverage. The organization says birth control opens up education and career opportunities for women.