The National Women’s Law Center filed complaints against Gonzaga and three other institutions that receive federal funding in June 2013, claiming they violated the Affordable Care Act by refusing to provide prenatal care to some women.
Gonzaga University has changed its health-insurance policy after a nonprofit law firm alleged the school was illegally denying maternity care to dependents of employees.
The Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed complaints against Gonzaga and three other institutions that receive federal funding in June 2013, claiming they violated the Affordable Care Act by refusing to provide prenatal care to some women. The law firm said Thursday that each institution has changed its policy in response to the complaints.
“Pregnancy coverage is an essential insurance benefit for women, and to omit it from coverage is sex discrimination, pure and simple,” the NWLC said. “The Affordable Care Act makes sex discrimination in health-insurance coverage illegal.”
The Office for Civil Rights, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, closed its investigations into the complaints Jan. 19, the last full day of President Obama’s presidency.
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Gonzaga spokesman Pete Tormey said in an email that the university has never violated the Affordable Care Act, and that it voluntarily began offering maternity care for employees’ dependents in January 2014.
“The university continues to provide this coverage and works diligently to ensure its benefits plans are in compliance with all relevant state and federal regulations and requirements,” he wrote.
According to the NWLC, the complaints also prompted policy changes within Pennsylvania’s higher-education system, which includes 14 public universities; the Battelle Memorial Institute, based in Columbus, Ohio; and Alabama’s Auburn University. The changes affect pregnant women under the age of 26 who depend on employees of those institutions for health insurance.
“The young women on these plans can now rest assured that they can access necessary prenatal care and deliver a baby without bankrupting their family,” the NWLC said. “With all the talk of repealing the Affordable Care Act, it’s critical to remember how much the law has done to eliminate unfair insurance practices and protect the health, lives and economic security of women across the country.”