By Ted Goldberg and Lisa Aliferis
In a reversal, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is barring two Catholic universities in California from offering health plans to their employees that limit abortion coverage.
Previously, state health officials had approved plans used by Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles that did not cover any abortion procedures, unless they were "medically necessary" to protect the health of the mother.
But earlier this month, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) said they were reviewing that approval.
The DMHC is now sending letters to insurance companies for both universities, requiring them to cover all abortions.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the DMHC determined that "the exclusions violate a 1975 state law that requires group health plans to cover all basic services -- defined by the law, as those that are 'medically necessary.'"
The Chronicle said the the DMHC director, Michelle Rouillard states in the letter that "abortion is a basic health care service," and that "the California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. Thus, all health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally."
The coverage limitations were announced last fall. The schools said they took the action because elective abortion is not consistent with Catholic teachings.
But faculty groups at both Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount universities had protested the limited coverage, saying that the schools had professed to be open to those of all views and faiths, the Chronicle said.