HHS proposes rule to lift referral requirements for faith-based organizations

HHS proposed a rule Jan. 16 to eliminate Obama-era requirements for faith-based hospitals to provide information for services they do not offer or referrals to patients who object to religious policies.

These requirements are burdensome to religious organizations and cast "unwarranted suspicion on them," according to the Trump administration. The proposed rule would not require religious organizations to provide any additional information or notices beyond what is required of secular organizations. It also establishes that HHS will not award funding based on an organization's religious affiliation.

"Americans of faith play an essential role in providing healthcare and human services to so many vulnerable people and communities, and President Trump is dedicated to removing every unfair barrier that stands in the way of this important work," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a press release.

Some groups opposed the proposal on the grounds that it could create barriers to care for some patients, like women or LGBTQ people. "Our taxpayer dollars should go to organizations that provide culturally competent, expert care and services without discrimination — not to organizations that deny services to vulnerable communities," Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy for Planned Parenthood, said in a press release.

The rule will be open for comment for 30 days.

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