Three members of Congress planned to introduce a bill Tuesday that would permanently block a federal rule that allows healthcare workers and organizations to decline to provide care that conflicts with their religious and moral beliefs or mission.
The Put Patients First Act was to be introduced by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
“The care patients receive should be predicated on their medical needs and not the personally held beliefs of providers or administrators,” Pappas said in a statement. “While conscience-based protections already exist in law, this extreme rule puts patients at risk.”
Among providers that could have been affected by the rule were assisted living communities that accept payments from Medicaid, because the federal government could have withheld funds to organizations deemed not to be in compliance. Skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities accepting federal funding also could have been affected.
The final rule made several references to abortion but also referred to advance directives, “assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing,” “compulsory healthcare or services generally, and under specific programs for hearing screening, occupational illness testing; vaccination and mental health treatment” as well as “certain requirements under Medicare and Medicaid that may burden their exercise of their religious beliefs regarding medical treatment.” Elder advocacy group SAGE also noted that some feared that the rule could make it easier to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.
This new legislation has garnered several endorsements.