Update on Our Position on the HHS Mandate

December 23, 2012

In the past week the Little Sisters of the Poor have received quite a bit of online media coverage, and it hasn’t even been related to football! Comments about the impact of the HHS Mandate on our mission made by a Little Sister during a recent parish visit set off a virtual avalanche of stories and blogs. In the midst of last minute Christmas preparations, the HHS Contraceptive Mandate, part of Obamacare, suddenly took center stage.

For many of the journalists who have contacted us, the burning question has been, “Will the Little Sisters really have to leave the United States due to the HHS Mandate?” Driving this question are the considerable fines to be imposed on those who refuse to comply with the Mandate based on religious or conscience objection claims.

There are a few points we’d like to clarify at this time:

  • Because of the one-year exemption for religious groups, the issue won’t affect us directly until January 1, 2014.
  • Some people have asked why a mandate involving contraception affects us at all, since we are a religious congregation caring for the elderly. It affects us primarily because we offer health insurance to our many employees across the country.
  • At this time the fine for those who stop providing health insurance to their employees is $2,000 per employee. The fine for those who provide insurance without the objectionable services is $100 per day per employee.

Either of these fines would present serious financial burdens for each of our homes across the United States, since we already rely on donations for 40–60% of our operating expenses.

We would like to make it clear that despite these seemingly insurmountable difficulties, we have no plans to close any of our homes, nor to leave the United States, as a result of the HHS Mandate. Our Congregation was founded in France in the wake of the French Revolution. Throughout the years, Little Sisters in numerous countries have remained with the elderly through two World Wars, national and regional conflicts, natural disasters and various forms of social unrest. Although, as we have previously stated, we have left several countries because of religious intolerance, we have done so only when forced to leave.

We would like to assure those we serve and their families, as well as our employees, friends and supporters, that we have absolutely no plans to leave the United States and cannot envision doing so unless given no other alternative.

We ask all those reading this to continue to pray with us for a just resolution to this issue — a solution that will respect the religious freedom and conscience rights of all those who disagree with this Mandate, regardless of their faith community. We are only one group among hundreds who will be adversely affected by the HHS Mandate.

Like our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, we put our trust in God’s Providence and say, with her, "If God is with us, it will be accomplished. … If God fills the house, he will not abandon it."

Finally, we wish everyone a Blessed Christmas!

 

CLICK HERE for an interview on the HHS Mandate given by the Little Sisters to the National Catholic Register.

CLICK HERE for our original statement on the HHS Mandate (MARCH 2012)