Gay marriage became legal in the Massachusetts this spring, and the hospitals became obligated to extend spousal benefits to gay workers by the state. But, the Caritas Christi Health Care, run by the Roman Catholic Church, has instead scrapped its entire benefits program, choosing to go for self-funded plans which are subject to federal rather than state laws, the Web site 365gay.com reported.
In a self-funded plan, the employer pays funds for the plan and hires a plan administrator to process the claims. “Since same-sex marriage is in conflict with church teachings, all Caritas Christi Hospitals are changing to self-funded plans,” workers were told in a letter, according to the Web report.
Since the self administered plans fall under federal control they are subject to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, said Wendy Bauer, a spokesperson for St. Anne’s Hospital, one of the facilities controlled by Caritas Christi. “Federal law states that employers with self-funded plans are not required to extend insurance benefits to same-sex spouses or employees,” Bauer told the Boston Herald.
Michele Granda, staff attorney for the activist group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, said that the Caritas group should still provide same-sex spouses of employees with benefits regardless of Catholic teachings.
The new system takes effect October 1.