By: Wayne Turner
HHS is attempting to roll back important protections for individuals seeking services from religiously-affiliated providers in a rulemaking it calls “Ensuring Equal Treatment of Faith-Based Providers.” The proposed rule would encourage religiously-affiliated providers to refuse to employ non-adherents and require that all employees and applicants for employment conform to the religious tenets of the organization. The rule also eliminates important consumer protections, including requiring a written notice explaining that beneficiaries need not participate in religious activities to receive federally-funded health care and other services. HHS would also eliminate the requirement to provide referrals, when practicable, to an alternative provider.
In comments, NHeLP explains how the proposed rule, if implemented, would impede access to health care and other important services; and would exacerbate health disparities, particularly for LGBTQ people, women, persons with disabilities, persons living in rural communities, people of color, and other under-served communities.