HHS Proposes Protection Regulation

To increase awareness of and compliance with laws protecting health care providers from being coerced into performing specific medical procedures conflicting with their religious or moral beliefs, HHS has placed a new proposed regulation on public display in the Federal Register.

Laws already exist to prohibit discrimination against health care providers who refuse to participate in controversial medical procedures, such as abortions and sterilizations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), however, believes a large segment of the health care industry is unaware of these laws.

Specifically, the proposed rule would:

  • Clarify that non-discrimination protections apply to institutional health care providers as well as to individual employees working for recipients of certain funds from HHS;
  • Require recipients of certain HHS funds to certify compliance with laws protecting provider conscience rights;
  • Designate the HHS Office for Civil Rights as the entity to receive complaints of discrimination addressed by the existing statutes and the proposed regulation; and
  • Charge HHS officials to work with any state or local government or entity that may be in violation of existing statutes and the proposed regulation to encourage voluntary steps to bring that government or entity into compliance with the law. If, despite the Department’s efforts, compliance is not achieved, HHS officials say they will consider all legal options, including termination of funding and the return of funds paid out in violation of the nondiscrimination provisions.

The proposed regulation is available on the HHS Web site. The Aug. 21 display in the Federal Register triggers a 30-day public comment period. Refer to the proposed rule for commenting instructions.

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2 Responses to “HHS Proposes Protection Regulation”

  1. judi jacobs says:

    I disagree with this. Serving the patients’ needs must be the main concern. If a provider is opposed to certain procedures, s/he should seek employment in places where the procedures aren’t done. A physician or pharmacist must put the patients’ need above their religious views. If they can’t do this, they need to find another line of work. They should not receive governmental protection for failure to perform their duties. When I worked in a veterinary clinic, I had to take part in euthanasias whether I agreed with it or not. I might add that this seems to only affect womens’ heath care. Nowhere else are highly paid employees allowed to shirk their duties with government protection.

  2. Diane Moore says:

    I agree with this regulation. There are many other events that a healthcare provider may be asked to participate in that go against religious or moral/ethical views; such as giving blood transfusions or participating in a terminal wean procedure for a ventilator patient to name a few. I feel, however, that it is the responsibility of the employee to notify their supervisor of such issues so that a qualified replacement can be made. There are many issues that affect all age groups—it goes beyond just women’s health. Any type of medical / healthcare education needs to address these concerns in their ethics course; but, with our ever changing world of medicine, there are bound to be issues that come to the forefront, and unfortunately, impact the work environment. I certainly don’t feel that my RN license of 32 + years should be in jeopardy by governmental oversight…..they’re not at the bedside!! As for highly paid……….that is a whole other debate.

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