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HHS Sees More Than 1,100 Comments Per Day on Conscience Rights Proposal

By Steven Porter  
   March 27, 2018

  1. The regulatory burden should be minimized. The breadth of the proposed rule is “problematic,” the AHA wrote, citing specific examples of particularly burdensome provisions. Therefore, the proposal to require hospitals to report reviews, investigations, and complaints to HHS should be scrapped, the organization argued.

The full AHA comment is available on the organization’s website, but the government had not released any of the comments publicly as of Tuesday morning.

An HHS OCR contractor tasked with handling media inquiries about the proposed rule told HealthLeaders Media in early February that the comments would be made public before the end of the comment period. Earlier this month, however, the contractor said plans had changed and the comments would likely not be published until after the comment window closed.

Late last year, HHS drew heavy criticism for withholding more than 10,000 public comments on a separate request for information pertaining to abortion and healthcare for transgender patients, as Politico reported. At first, only 80 comments were released publicly, most of them supporting the Trump administration’s position.

During an interview earlier this month with Catholic radio show Doctor, Doctor, HHS OCR outreach adviser Arina Grossu assured stakeholders that their feedback would be handled properly.

“All the comments will be read and taken into account,” Grossu said. “And this is a proposed regulation, which means that once we review the comments that we receive, we will incorporate information into the final rule.”

When asked about concerns that enhancing protections for healthcare workers could lead to more discrimination against LGBT patients, Grossu said anyone is welcome to file complaints with HHS OCR if they believe their rights of conscience, civil rights, or health information privacy rights have been violated.

“These federal laws were put in place to prohibit discrimination and are not themselves discriminatory,” she said. “They actually protect people from being discriminated against.”

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


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