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A.G. Schneiderman Leads Coalition Of 19 AGs Opposing Trump Administration's Attempt To Give Entities A License To Discriminate In Health Care

HHS Proposed Rule Seeks to Expand Ability of Businesses and Individuals to Refuse to Provide Necessary Health Care on the Basis of Their “Religious, Moral, Ethical, or Other” Beliefs

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 19 Attorneys General, 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.”

“At a time when many New Yorkers and Americans are struggling to access decent health care, the Trump administration is trying to put ideology before patient safety and care – under the guise of religious freedom,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The law is clear, providing a time-tested, established framework that balances respect for religious freedom with the rights and needs of patients, employers, and states.”

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.

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.

Click here to read the comments, which were submitted by the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.