President Donald Trump’s administration is set to wade into its next health care policy controversy—new federal guidelines that would add protections for doctors and health care workers who have moral or religious objections to certain procedures, such as performing abortions and treating transgender Americans or those with different gender identities, Politico reports. Such rules would make it easier for health workers to opt out of services, and medical organizations which don’t give doctors that leeway could reportedly be punished.
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.
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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.