A proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to be released in the coming weeks or months that opponents say would make it easier for doctors and hospitals to deny treatment to transgender patients and women who have had abortions. The proposed rule is expected to roll back a controversial anti-discrimination provision buried within ObamaCare.
Religious providers say they expect the Trump administration's rule would merely reinforce their right not to provide treatment that's against their beliefs. Advocacy groups like the ACLU and Lambda Legal acknowledge they haven't seen the proposed rule, but say administration officials have made their plans clear.
A sweeping 2016 final rule from the Obama administration prohibited healthcare providers and insurers who receive federal money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity, or termination of pregnancy, among other conditions. It also required doctors and hospitals to provide "medically necessary" services to transgender individuals, as long as those services were the same ones provided to others.
That rule was challenged in court by a group of Christian providers called the Franciscan Alliance. They argue the rule forces insurers to pay for abortions and compels doctors to perform gender transition services, even if the services are against their medical judgment.
The Alliance won that case, and a Texas district court judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the gender identity and pregnancy termination provisions from taking effect. Trump's HHS decided not to appeal the ruling. On Aug. 4, the Department of Justice, which is representing HHS in the lawsuit, said it was reviewing a draft proposed rule that had already cleared HHS.
It's unclear when DOJ will complete the review. Once DOJ finishes, the final step before the rule's release is a review by the Office of Management and Budget. Buchert said she was surprised at how quickly HHS drafted the new proposal.
"I expected them to take more time in deliberating, in the same way the original rule was crafted, rather than crafting something internally and sending it over to DOJ," she said. Read more via The Hill