The Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is developing new regulations for U.S. health-care law in close consultation with a coalition of activist groups intent on imposing an abortion, end-of-life and sexual-health agenda without religious-freedom exceptions.
The new rule in development has the potential for adverse effects on Catholic employers, but could prove devastating to Catholic health-care providers, including Catholic hospitals that care for one in six hospital patients in the United States.
According to Aug. 13 court filings uncovered by attorneys for the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA), and provided exclusively to the Register, the HHS and its Office of Civil Rights informed the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that it was working on a new rule (a set of regulations) that would replace the 2020 “rule” established by HHS under the former Trump administration.
The Catholic Benefits Association’s membership includes 71 dioceses, representing approximately a third of the U.S. dioceses and eparchies, and more than 1,000 affiliated members, such as charities, hospitals, universities and small businesses.
The Trump administration had revised 2016 regulations issued under the Obama administration that required doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries or refer patients for them — despite objections they would have to the procedure — and required insurance coverage for gender-transition surgeries.
A pair of legal cases, in which the Catholic Benefits Association was successfully represented, resulted in permanent injunctions that prohibited the HHS from enforcing abortion and transgender mandates on the association’s members.
However, the Aug. 13 legal filing reveals HHS is working on a new rule that would dispose of the 2020 rule and potentially exceed the 2016 Obama-era regulations by vastly expanding the scope of what discrimination on “the basis of sex” means under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
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