Health Law Matters

Trump Administration Issues Conscience Protection Rule

The Week In Health Law

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), issued a 440-page rule allowing health providers, insurers, and employers to refuse to provide or pay for services such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide in cases where those actions violate religious or moral beliefs. The rule also covers healthcare staff that “assist in the performance” of such services, including schedulers and those who prepare rooms.
  • The rule spells out services that providers or entities could refuse to provide and/or pay for based on their beliefs. It also emphasizes the rights of parents to refuse several specific types of care for their children. If providers don’t comply with the rule, they face the loss of federal funding. The OCR’s Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, which was established in 2018, will oversee complaints from providers who feel their rights have not been respected.
  • OCR indicated the rule largely reinforces current laws and regulations that protect a medical provider’s right to refuse to perform procedures, while adding new standards that Medicare and Medicaid providers will need to follow. “Finally, laws prohibiting government-funded discrimination against conscience and religious freedom will be enforced like every other civil rights law,” said Roger Severino, head of OCR. 

More trending Health Law topics this week:

  • OCR Lowers Cap Amounts for HIPAA Violations

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Attorney Spotlight

Thomas D. Anthony is the former chair of FBT's Health Care Industry Team. He focuses on counseling health care entities on corporate transactions, regulatory compliance and joint ventures.