Can Healthcare Providers Navigate their Rights of Refusal?

A recently proposed bill in Alabama has piqued the interest of healthcare providers and consumers alike. As the proposal heads to the Alabama senate, this bill could change the face of healthcare and the responsibilities of healthcare providers in the Cotton State. House Bill 491 seeks to afford healthcare providers the right to refuse to perform treatment, procedures or provide care that goes against their moral standing. If passed the “Health Care Rights of Conscience Act,” would give health care providers “the authority to refuse to perform or to participate in health care services that violate their conscience.” Those who would choose to invoke this right would be offered immunity from civil, criminal, or administrative liability for refusing to provide or participate in the health care service. Officials claim that the bill is aimed at addressing a healthcare provider’s rights surrounding reproductive procedures and issues.

This is not the first “conscious clause” or “right of refusal” legislation of its kind. It’s simply the most recent manifestation of a decades-long debate particularly aimed at reproductive medicine. 47 states and the District of Columbia allow certain individuals or entities the right to refuse to provide women specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals. However, critics of Alabama’s “Health Care Rights of Conscience Act” are concerned that the bill does little to protect against the abuse of these powers, which could lead to discrimination and other professional liability breaches.

While healthcare providers have been struggling to balance their own personal ethos with the demands of their profession for years, in many cases little can be done to refuse service or care to a patient. Healthcare facilities that are federally funded, such as walk-in clinics, home health agencies, and hospitals, generally lack the legal backing to deny care to any patient. Policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits public healthcare firms from discriminating against people with infectious diseases, and other anti-discrimination legislation are designed to ensure that all Americans have the same opportunities and access to health care. In many cases refusing to care for a patient based on their condition, the type of medical service requested or other factors could result in serious legal complications for the healthcare firm and provider.

Consulting qualified legal counsel and securing strong liability insurance are two basic ways that healthcare providers can manage their liability and loss exposures. At Manchester Specialty Programs, you will find all the insurance coverage you need to operate your business, and all in one program. We deliver specialty insurance programs that are specifically designed for home care firms in both medical and support roles. Our comprehensive home health care provider insurance program is designed to help these agencies continue to provide the important services they offer throughout our communities. To find out more about our operation and all our specialty insurance programs, you or your local insurance broker can give us a call today at 855-972-9399.