HHS Proposed Rule Causes Controversy

Yesterday’s blog discussed the background of HHS’ proposed rule, which would penalize institutions that discriminate against providers who refuse to refer patients to abortion providers. As promised, today we’ll focus on the details of the proposed rule, which is entitled “Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices In Violation of Federal Law.”

Controversy in the TeamIn relevant part, the proposed rule would:

  • Condition HHS funding upon the recipient’s certification that it complies with the 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7 (“Church Amendments”), 42 U.S.C. § 238n (“Public Health Service Act”) and Pub. L. No. 110-161, Div. G, § 508(d), 121 Stat. 1844, 2209 (“Weldon Act”), each of which, in a slightly different way, supports provider conscience rights (collectively “Conscience Laws”)
  • Direct that all complaints of discrimination be made to the HHS Office for Civil Rights; and
  • Require HHS to assist private entities, state governments and local governments that are in violation of existing Conscience Laws and the proposed regulation to make necessary changes to achieve full compliance.

The comment period for the proposed rule extends through the middle of September 2008. If you would like to submit a comment, you may do so electronically by visiting http://www.Regulations.gov

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