Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

BULLETIN
May 2, 2019

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[Official Guidance]

HHS Final Regulations: Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care (PDF)

440 pages. "The United States has a long history of providing protections in health care for individuals and entities on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions. Congress has passed many such laws applicable to [HHS] and the programs or activities it funds or administers, some of which are the subject of existing HHS regulations ... This final rule revises existing regulations to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal conscience and anti-discrimination laws applicable to the Department, its programs, and recipients of HHS funds, and to delegate overall enforcement and compliance responsibility to the Department's Office for Civil Rights ('OCR'). In addition, this final rule clarifies OCR's authority to initiate compliance reviews, conduct investigations, supervise and coordinate compliance by the Department and its components, and use enforcement tools otherwise available in existing regulations to address violations and resolve complaints. In order to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance and other Department funds comply with their legal obligations, this final rule requires certain recipients to maintain records; cooperate with OCR's investigations, reviews, or other proceedings; and submit written assurances and certifications of compliance to the Department. The final rule also encourages the recipients of HHS funds to provide notice to individuals and entities about their right be free from coercion or discrimination on account of religious beliefs or moral convictions."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

HHS Announces Final Conscience Rule Protecting Health Care Entities and Individuals

"[I]n January 2018, following the launch of its new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, HHS announced the proposed conscience rule. OCR received over 242,000 public comments, and analyzed and carefully considered all comments submitted from the public on the proposed conscience regulation before finalizing it. This final rule replaces a 2011 rule that has proven inadequate, and ensures that HHS implements the full set of tools appropriate for enforcing the conscience protections passed by Congress. These federal laws protect providers, individuals, and other health care entities from having to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, services such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide. It also includes conscience protections with respect to advance directives. The final rule clarifies what covered entities need to do to comply with applicable conscience provisions and requires applicants for HHS federal financial assistance to provide assurances and certifications of compliance. The rule also specifies compliance obligations for covered entities, including cooperation with OCR, maintenance of records, reporting, and non-retaliation requirements."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2019 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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