HHS Takes Action Against Texas Senate Bill 8

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The federal government is taking action to protect patients and providers from the ramifications of Senate Bill 8 (SB8) in Texas.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Friday announced new resources and actions to preserve reproductive health care for Texans in response to a directive from President Joe Biden.

Biden announced a whole-of-government response following the passage of SB8 and asked HHS to explore options to strengthen access to safe and legal abortions in Texas.

“Every American deserves access to health care, no matter where they live, including access to safe and legal abortions,” Becerra said.

“Now, in response to President Biden’s directive, the HHS is taking action to support and protect both patients and providers from this dangerous attack on Texan healthcare. Today, we’re making it clear that physicians and hospitals have a duty under federal law to make medical decisions about when to treat their patients. And we tell doctors and others involved in providing abortion care that we support you, ”he adds.

Second. Xavier Becerra

Becerra announced actions the HHS will take, including a grant for clinics, resources outlining health and personal care protections, and strengthening legal protections for pregnant people experiencing pregnancy loss in Texas.

HHS takes a three-pronged approach that includes:

  • Title X subsidize support to suppliers
    • Title X beneficiaries received nearly $ 19 million to support expansion of family planning services last week
    • The HHS Office for Population Affairs (OPA) will provide additional funding to Every Body Texas, which is an existing Title X family planning beneficiary, to meet the expected increase in client needs for emergency contraception and family planning tools.
    • The OPA is set to provide up to $ 10 million in grants to expand and improve access to emergency contraception and family planning services to any eligible applicant for Title X services who can prove a claim. need resulting from influx of customers due to SB8, as well as states across the country with increased needs
    • The funding opportunity will be called “Funding to Meet Urgent Family Planning Service Needs and can be found here
  • Enforcement of non-discrimination against health care providers
    • The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces the Church Amendments, which protect healthcare workers from employment discrimination that opposes abortion, sterilization, and biomedical / behavioral research activities due to moral or religious convictions.
      • The law also protects healthcare from employment-related discrimination because it performed / assisted with an illegal abortion.
    • The Friday guidelines outline protections that prohibit grants, loans, contracts or loan guarantees against discrimination in the employment, promotion or termination of any doctor or health care worker because they have performed / assisted in performing an abortion under the Public Health Services Act.
    • OCR may receive complaints from those who believe they have been discriminated against in violation of Church Amendments
    • Complaints can be lodged here
  • Application of the law on emergency medical treatment and work (EMTALA) and the conditions of participation in health insurance
    • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has issued a notice to providers that strengthens EMTALA and legal obligations for pregnant patients or patients experiencing pregnancy loss.
    • The law requires that all patients receive appropriate medical screening, stabilizing treatment, and referral (if necessary), regardless of laws or state mandates to apply to specific procedures.
    • The HHS states that “the professional and legal duty of a physician to provide medical treatment to a patient who presents to the emergency department and suffers from an emergency medical condition prevails over any law or state warrant directly. contradictory which could seek to prevent such treatment ”
    • Financial penalties in civil court may be imposed on any hospital or doctor for violation of EMTALA
      • Doctors may be excluded from Medicare and Medicaid programs

For more information on SB8, click here; for our full Texas policy coverage, click here.

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