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OSF HealthCare won't cover fertility treatments for LGBTQ employees, report says

Jeff Smudde / WCBU

OSF HealthCare's insurance policy bars its LGBTQ employees from fertility treatment coverage.

That's according to a new report by Bloomberg Law. Reporter Shira Stein told WCBU that while most health plans use the CDC's definition of infertility, OSF's stated policy covers fertility treatments only for married, opposite-sex couples.

Stein said while neither federal nor state discrimination laws consider married people a protected class, sexual orientation is protected.

But she said religious employers also get some leeway with their policies as it pertains to their beliefs, adding an element of legal uncertainty. OSF HealthCare is led by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, a Catholic religious order in Peoria.

Stein spoke to nearly a dozen attorneys for her story.

"Every single one that I spoke to was shocked, and had never heard of a health plan so explicitly saying we will only cover the service for heterosexual individuals," said Stein.

In a statement, OSF HealthCare spokesperson Shelli Dankoff defended the policy. She said the Peoria-based health care organization aligns its employee benefits with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The employee benefits we provide are driven by the OSF Mission and are in full compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services as well as state and federal laws, including the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act," Dankoff said.

OSF HealthCare employs more than 24,000 people in Illinois and Michigan.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2022 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the Assignment Editor and Digital Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.