Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors today joined a coalition of 23 cities, states, and municipalities, in filing a lawsuit against a set of revised rules issued by the Trump Administration that the plaintiffs said would allow businesses and individuals to refuse health care on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The federal suit led by New York Attorney General Letitia James was filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service in the southern district of New York, seeking to prevent a set of revisions to its federal policy — referred to as the “final rule” — from going into effect.
“This rule is a license to discriminate,” said Connors in a news release. “It allows health care providers to refuse service based on personal beliefs about who is worthy of receiving the provider’s services. As such, it is a misinterpretation of religious freedom that could have devastating consequences.”
The lawsuit alleges that the “final rule,” scheduled to take effect in July, would undermine the delivery of health care by giving a wide range of institutions and individuals “the categorical right to deny lawful and medically necessary treatment, services, and information to patients, based on the provider’s own personal views.”
The new rule, said the plaintiffs, expands the number of providers eligible to make such refusals, ranging from receptionists to ambulance drivers, and emergency room doctors.
Under the new rule, for example, an emergency room doctor could refuse to assist a woman who arrived with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, even if her life was in jeopardy.
Businesses, including employers, would also be able to refuse insurance coverage for procedures they consider objectionable, and allow individual health care personnel to not fully inform patients of their medical options or refer them to providers of options they consider objectionable.
The lawsuit further alleges that the risk of noncompliance is the termination of billions of dollars in federal health care funding.
All of this, the lawsuit said, violates the federal Administrative Procedures Act and the Spending Clause and separation of powers principles in the U.S. Constitution.
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, City of New York, City of Chicago, and Cook County, Ill., joined New York and Hawaii in the suit.