Nevada has joined a coalition of 23 cities, states and municipalities in a lawsuit against a rule issued by the Trump Administration they believe would allow health providers and businesses to deny medically necessary treatment, without notice, based on one’s “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
The Department of Health and Human Services rule would codify the ability for individual providers and entire institutions to deny health care to patients for “religious, moral, ethical, or other reasons” according to the lawsuit.
The federal lawsuit seeks to prevent the rule from going into effect and follows comments a coalition of states filed in March 2018 when the rule was first proposed.
“The Department of Health and Human Services’ rule would allow individuals and entire institutions to deny lawful and medically necessary care to patients, even in cases of emergencies,” said Nevada Attorney General Aron Ford who joined the lawsuit, in a statement Tuesday. “I join with other states and cities around the country to halt this rule that will substantially change the delivery of health care at the expense of patients who need access to medically necessary care.”
The plaintiffs contend the rule violates the Constitution’s establishment clause that prohibits the government from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” They also assert the rule could deprive states of federal health funding if HHS determines a state doesn’t comply with the rule’s mandates.
States and cities rely upon these 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 rule would expand the number of providers eligible to make such refusals, ranging from ambulance drivers to emergency room doctors, receptionists and customer service representatives at insurance companies.
“If implemented, the Proposed Rule will enable health care workers to refuse to provide life-saving care without notice to their employers—and to the detriment of patients—and impose massive burdens on both private and public institutions,” reads the original comment against the rule.
In addition to Nevada, other states and cities joining the lawsuit include: the City of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, the City of Chicago, and Cook County, Illinois.