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Health Care Conscientious Objector

Providers - H.B. 4660 Rep. Brian Palmer
Insurance - Pending re-introduction
Facilities -  Pending re-introduction

Current Status
H.B. 4660 was discharged from the Committee on Judiciary on May 1, 2008.

Description
H.B. 4660 requires an employer to make work duty accommodations if an employee asserts a conscientious objection to participating in certain medical procedures or research.

The insurance bill, which has yet to be reintroduced, protects employers who purchase insurance, and protects insurance companies from having to purchase or offer coverage for objectionable treatments or procedures.

The Facilities bill, which has yet to be reintroduced, protects a health facility from having to provide a treatment or procedure to which the facility has a conscientious objection.

Background
Currently the only medical procedure for which a health care worker, health institution, or benefit payer may refuse to participate in is abortion. This package of bills would protect health care providers, institutions, insurers and payers with regard to any medical procedure or research that violates their deeply held religious or moral beliefs, including situations involving embryo research, cloning or genetic manipulation, withdrawing medical treatment or nutrition, dispensing abortion pills or morning after pills, etc.

The Terri Schiavo case of 2005 points to an example where health care workers would have a conscientious objection to participating in the direct euthanasia of patient. Pharmacists also require protection from having to dispense prescriptions for potentially life-terminating medications. Medical students and researchers may be asked to participate in research involving embryonic stems cells, cloning, the mixing of animal and human genes. Without this legislation, a provider who refused to participate could be fired, demoted or other wise punished by their employer.

Many faith based health facilities provide care in accordance with specific tenets of their faith. However, these providers are under increasing attack for not offering, for example, so-called "reproductive health services" to their patients. In areas of this country, legislation is forcing these faith-based health care facilities to either reduce services or close because they are requiring provision of these and other services that violate the beliefs of the founding organization.

History
H.B. 4660 was introduced by Rep. Brian Palmer on April 25, 2007and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

In a previous session, the Conscientious Objector - Provider bill (H.B. 4741) was introduced by Rep. Brian Palmer on 5/5/05 and referred to the House Health Policy Committee. S.B. 938 was introduced on 12/13/05 by Sen. Tom George and referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee. Neither bill was scheduled for a hearing.

H.B. 4745-46, the insurance bills, were introduced by Rep. Scott Hummel on 5/10/05 and were referred to the House Committee on Insurance, where they were reported out 9-6 on 3/23/06. On 4/26/06 both bills were passed in the House with a vote of 68-38 with one not voting.

H.B. 4775, Conscientious Objector - Facilities bill was introduced by Rep. John Gleason on 5/11/05 and referred to the House Health Policy Committee, where they were never scheduled for a hearing.

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