The next health care policy controversy is brewing. President Trump is set to protect doctors who won’t perform abortions or treat transgender patients. The new guidelines will protect doctors who have moral or religious obligations that keep them from performing certain procedures. The new rules would make it easier for health workers to opt out. The medical organizations that do not provide the doctors the leeway they are supposed to will be punished, according to the report.
The new “conscience refusal” protections from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could be introduced as soon as this week, according to Politico, and would likely set off a political firestorm. Groups like the Physicians for Reproductive Health network and National Center for Transgender Equality were already sending out missives Wednesday warning that such conscience-based refusals could harm patients and breed discrimination.
The moral objection guidelines would reportedly be overseen by a new office within the HHS civil rights division. This division would be able to audit health care organizations to make sure they’re allowing health care workers to opt out of procedures they personally find morally objectionable.
Trump and his administration’s HHS, including Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma, have taken a series of aggressive steps to roll back Obama era health care regulations, including with the upcoming conscience rules. Last week, HHS cleared a historic shift in Medicaid policy by allowing states to pursue waivers that would let them make low-income Americans’ Medicaid coverage contingent on finding a job.
Maybe bakeries can get the same type of protection so they can’t decline to bake a cake for a gay couple. This is a good place to start.