Attorney General Frosh Joins Coalition Suing to Stop Federal Rule Allowing Discrimination in Providing Health Care

U.S. HHS Final Rule Seeks to Allow Refusal to Provide Necessary Health Care on Basis of “Religious, Moral, Ethical, or Other” Beliefs

News Release, Office of Maryland Attorney General

BALTIMORE, MD (May 21, 2019) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has joined a coalition of 23 cities, states, and municipalities filing a lawsuit today against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services challenging a Final Rule issued by the Department. This Rule expands the ability of businesses and individuals to refuse to provide necessary health care based on “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, seeks to enjoin the Final Rule and prevent it from going into effect. The suit follows a comment letter filed in March 2018 by a coalition of state attorneys general urging that the rule be withdrawn.

“Marylanders have a right to quality care that is delivered based on medical needs, not based upon personal preferences of health providers,” said Attorney General Frosh. “This rule is illegal and unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit alleges that the Final Rule, which is set to take effect in July 2019, is illegal and will undermine the delivery of health care by giving a wide range of health care institutions and individuals a right to refuse care, based on the provider’s own personal views. The Rule as it stands drastically expands the number of providers eligible to make such refusals, ranging from medical transport providers to emergency room doctors, receptionists, and customer service representatives at insurance companies. Additionally, the Rule makes this right of refusal absolute and categorical: no matter what reasonable steps a health provider or employer makes to accommodate the views of an objecting individual, if the individual rejects a proposed accommodation, a provider or employer is left with no recourse.

The Final Rule will also allow businesses to object to employee insurance coverage for procedures the business considers objectionable, allow individual health care personnel to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options, and create devastating consequences that fall particularly hard on marginalized patients, including LGBTQ patients, who already confront discrimination in obtaining health care.

The lawsuit further alleges that the risk of noncompliance is the termination of billions of dollars in federal health care funding. If HHS determines, in its sole discretion, that states or cities have failed to comply with the Final Rule—through their own actions or the actions of thousands of sub-contractors who deliver health services—the federal government could terminate funding to those states and cities. States and cities rely on those funds for countless programs to promote the public health of their residents, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and education, and substance abuse and mental health treatment.

The lawsuit argues that this drastic expansion of refusal rights, and the draconian threat of termination of federal funds, violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act and the Spending Clause and separation of powers principles in the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to Maryland, the lawsuit was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the City of New York, the City of Chicago, and Cook County, Illinois.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.