Friday, May 3, 2019

Trump Administration Strengthens 'Conscience Rule' for Health Care Workers

May 2, 2019 (New York Times): Trump Administration Strengthens 'Conscience Rule ' for Health Care Workers, by Margot Sanger-Katz:

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a new regulation to protect health care providers who refuse to provide services based on their religious or moral conviction. Under the regulations, health care institutions that fail to respect the the conscience rights of such workers would face the loss of federal funds.

After the 440-page rule was released, some groups said they feared the provisions were overly broad and could imperil care for patients seeking reproductive health care. They also said it could lead to discrimination against gay or transgender patients and their children, and weaken public health efforts to expand childhood vaccinations.

On a call with reporters, Roger Severino, Director of HHS's Office of Civil Rights maintained that the regulation is needed to protect health care workers who object to providing certain services.  However, there are concerns that the rule is overly broad and will interfere with patients' ability to get care.

“The rule allows a very wide range of people — from the receptionist to the boards of hospitals and everyone in between — to deny a patient’s medical care if their personal beliefs get in the way,” said Fatima Goss Graves, the president of the National Women’s Law Center. Ms. Goss Graves described the rule as not only tightening enforcement of civil rights laws but also changing the balance of rights between patients and their clinicians.

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