Proposed Regulations from HHS Could Mean the End of Catholic Healthcare
Last month, the Religious Freedom and Health Care Team spoke with Rachel Morrison, Fellow for the Ethics and Public Policy Center HHS Accountability Project, about the ramifications of this draft proposal.
On July 29th, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published their proposal for regulation changes to the Nondiscrimination provisions noted in the Affordable Care Act in section 1557. The proposal is currently listed on the Federal Registry and is open to public comment.
What Has Changed?
Simply put, the proposed revisions from the Biden administration would remove the conscience protections that were put in place by the previous administration. But it doesn’t stop there.
No, these new guidelines would not simply roll back the regulations to those put in place by the Obama administration. The new regulations would go much further. Included in the proposed revision is an expansion of sex discrimination which would now include sexual orientation. In addition, the proposal includes language that the HHS is considering the addition of access to abortion procedures as a sex discrimination protection.
What does that mean for health care workers, institutions, or insurers?
If these revisions are implemented[,]health care workers who morally and ethically oppose gender-affirming care, would be forced to either violate their conscience in providing those procedures or potentially face disciplinary action. The revisions would also require health insurance providers to cover the cost of those procedures. In the same light, if abortion access is included, this would force health care workers and insurers to be involved.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out publicly to state their concern about the proposed revisions stating, “Catholic health care ministries serve everyone … but we cannot do what our faith forbids. We object to harmful procedures, not to patients.”
Can anything be done to stop these regulations?
Now that the proposed regulations are formally published, the public can comment on them by submitting written comments. This may seem like a daunting task when you think about the number of pages and specialized language used in regulations. However, organizations such as the EPPC, Religious Freedom Institute, Christ Medicus Foundation, and The Heritage Foundation, provide summaries to the public of the top points and explain how organizations can respond to the proposal.
EPPC Explainer on Public Comments on Agency Rulemaking
How to File a Federal Conscience Complaint
Gender Identity Policy Under the Biden Administration