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Biden HHS to release new regulations threatening conscience protections, group claims

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According to Catholic News Service, leadership at the Catholic Benefits Association believes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will announce new regulations, perhaps as soon as this month, that will threaten conscience protections for health care professionals.

A 74-page legal memorandum prepared by the Leadership Conference and discovered in November of last year revealed that HHS has promised to revise regulations with regard to health plan coverage to include surgical abortion, fertility treatments, contraception, abortifacients, and sterilizations, as well as a variety of transgender-related procedures.

“The memo prepared by the Leadership Conference provides the best forecast of what the new regulation will say. … [T]here is good reason to believe that it will be quite similar to the memo signed on by 30 sexual rights activist groups including Planned Parenthood,” according to attorney Martin Nussbaum, advisor to the Catholic Benefits Association.

It is expected that the new regulations will disallow religious exemptions.

READ: HHS floods Planned Parenthood with hundreds of millions more in taxpayer dollars

These regulations would apply to section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity. They would likely apply to all health care providers, clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, group health insurers, and third-party administrators of self-funded plans. 

“And if the new regulation applies to all of those groups, it will effectively apply to all employers with a health plan,” Nussbaum said. “[T]he penalties to noncompliance will likely include private enforcement, class-action lawsuits, ‘qui tam’ actions, which is where an individual can file a lawsuit as if he or she were the United States itself,” Nussbaum explained. “The penalties may also include loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding and even imprisonment for noncomplying health care executives.”

Doug Wilson, CEO of the Catholic Benefits Association, believes the anticipated regulations represent “a well-crafted and well-thought out way” to oust religion from the health care field. “The Leadership Conference’s demands are very clear,” he stated. “There must be no religious exemptions from this. At the end of the day, we are preparing for what we anticipate will be a significant lawsuit.”

Faith-based groups and employers will likely challenge any proposed changes.

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