Ohio providers can deny care on moral grounds under new law

Ohio physicians, hospitals and insurers can refuse to offer or pay for a medical service if it violates their moral or religious beliefs under a new provision, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The medical conscience clause is included in the state's $74.1 billion 2022-23 budget, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed July 1. 

The Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, Ohio State Medical Association and Ohio Association of Health Plans issued a joint statement opposing the provision during the state's budget process.

"The implications of this policy are immense and could lead to situations where patient care is unacceptably compromised," they wrote in the June 17 letter to lawmakers. There already are longstanding conscience protections in place under current law for healthcare professionals, and hospitals have policies to accommodate differing religious and moral convictions, the groups said.

LGBTQ and abortion-rights groups also oppose the provision, arguing it will restrict access to reproductive health care and cause more discrimination, according to a separate Columbus Dispatch report.

Mr. DeWine defended the provision, saying physicians should not be forced to do things they're not comfortable with.  

"People are not going to be discriminated against in regards to medical care,” Mr. DeWine said July 1, according to Cleveland.com. "We have a vibrant medical care system in the state of Ohio. We have great doctors. We have great nurses. We have great systems."

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