Obama Administration Takes First Step to Repeal Rule that Limits the Rights of Patients To Receive Complete and Accurate Health Information and Services
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) applauds the Obama administration for taking the first step in rescinding a midnight regulation that undermines the country’s fragile health care system as well as patients’ access to health care information and services.
“Today’s action by the Obama administration demonstrates that this president is not going to stand by and let women’s health be placed in jeopardy. By taking the first step in rescinding the harmful midnight regulation, the Obama administration is standing up for patients having the right to receive complete and accurate health information and services,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards.
According to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) website, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sent a proposed rule titled “Rescission of the Regulation Issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on December 19, 2008, Implementing the Church Amendments (42 U.S.C. 300a-7), Section 245 of the Public Health Service” to OMB for review.
“Our priority is ensuring that the millions of patients we see every year receive complete and accurate health information and services,” said Richards. “In these difficult economic times and with more than 45 million Americans currently uninsured, it is critical that we work to increase, not limit, access to health care. When a patient walks into a hospital, pharmacy, or any health care center she should be confident she will receive complete and accurate health care information and services.”
When the Bush administration proposed the rule, roughly 200,000 U.S. citizens, federal and state elected officials, medical organizations, and health care advocacy and religious organizations submitted comments opposing the misguided rule, including
- a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 members of Congress
- a bipartisan group of governors, including Governors John Baldacci (D-ME), Chet Culver (D-IA), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Christine Gregoire (D-WA), David Paterson (D-NY), M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Edward Rendell (D-PA), and Ted Strickland (D-OH)
- a bipartisan group of attorneys general, including those from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont
- state legislators from a number of states, including Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin
- nongovernmental organizations ranging from the American Nurses Association, the American Medical Student Association, the American Social Health Association, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and several prominent HIV/AIDS, international health, and gay rights organizations
In addition, the legal counsel and two commissioners from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also submitted comments, explaining that the rule creates unnecessary confusion for the nearly 600,000 health care facilities it reaches.
By allowing health insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, physicians, and health care workers of all kinds to deny patients vital health care information and services, without the patient even knowing, the rule undermines health care access and creates chaos in an already stressed health care system, particularly for low-income women and families whose options are already limited.
In January, Planned Parenthood filed legal action challenging the regulation. In addition, the Connecticut attorney general, joined by the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island filed a separate but parallel legal action challenging the regulation. These states have taken proactive steps in enacting legislation that protects patients’ access to vital health care services and information — for example, laws that guarantee rape survivors have access to emergency contraception in emergency rooms. The current HHS regulation poses a serious barrier to the states’ enforcement of their laws protecting patients.
May 14, 2014