HHS Proposed Rule Would Allow Businesses and Individuals to Deny Necessary Health Care on the Basis of “Religious, Moral, Ethical, or Other” Beliefs
HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today filed comments opposing the Trump Department of Health and Human Services’ Proposed Rule, which seeks to dramatically expand the ability of businesses and individuals to refuse to provide necessary health care on the basis of businesses’ or employees’ “religious, moral, ethical, or other beliefs.” Shapiro filed these comments as part of a coalition of 19 state Attorneys General.
“This proposal is an attempt to undermine the health care rights of Americans based on what they look like, who they love, or who they pray to – and I won’t stand for that discrimination,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “I’ll continue to fight for the rights of all Pennsylvanians and ensure they receive the health care benefits and coverage they deserve.”
The Trump administration proposes to unlawfully expand purposefully narrow existing protections, without consideration of the consequences. For example, the rule would allow businesses, including employers, to object to providing insurance coverage for procedures they consider objectionable. The rule would also allow individual health care personnel to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options. Finally, the rule would impose particularly enormous burdens on marginalized patients, including LGBT patients, who already confront discrimination in obtaining health care.
Placing the objections of businesses and health care workers above patient safety and care violates existing federal and state laws and undermines state public health efforts to ensure access to care. Additionally, the Proposed Rule unconstitutionally seeks to coerce the States’ compliance with its unlawful requirements by threatening to terminate billions of dollars in federal health care funding if HHS determines that the States have failed—or even “threatened” to fail—to comply with the rule.
The comments argue the Administration’s Proposed Rule violates the rule of law. Specifically, it violates the Tenth Amendment by attempting to force the states to carry out federal policies and threatens the states with loss of federal health care funding if they refuse.
Because HHS’s proposed rule would increase the risk of harm to patients and be inconsistent with the text of several federal and state laws and the Constitution, the Attorneys General are urging that the Proposed Rule be withdrawn.
In addition to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the comments were submitted by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
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