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New bill, led by Senator Murray, will block harmful rule from President Trump allowing health practitioners to withhold health care based on their own personal beliefs, regardless of the needs of the patient

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the Put Patients First Act, following the Southern District of New York’s ruling against the Trump Administration’s attempt to refuse to provide lifesaving care on religious or “conscience” bases.

The Put Patients First Act would permanently block the Trump-Pence Administration’s rule which was finalized earlier this year, that permits widespread discrimination in health care by allowing someone else’s personal beliefs to dictate a patient’s health care. This rule allows virtually any individual or entity involved in a patient’s care—from a hospital’s board of directors to a receptionist that schedules procedures—to withhold care based on personal beliefs.

“The Trump Administration is trying to make it possible for almost anybody involved in a patient’s care to put their own personal views ahead of that patient’s medical needs,” said Senator Murray.While courts have ruled with patients and health care rather than ideology and hate and halted President Trump’s harmful plan to support discrimination for now, people’s health care shouldn’t hang on a court decision. We’re introducing this legislation to make sure that no matter who you are, your care is based on your medical needs and not someone else’s beliefs.”

A vocal critic of the Trump-Pence Administration’s persistent efforts to sabotage health care for millions of patients and a longtime defender of patient health care protections, Senator Murray previously wrote to the Health Department Secretary Alex Azar in August 2019 seeking additional information about the Department’s decision to adopt the refusal of care rule, highlighting that the rule would undermine the health and well-being of women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other vulnerable communities by “entrenching and sanctioning discrimination in the health care system.” Senator Cantwell has also repeatedly opposed the administration’s efforts to sabotage critical health care. In August, she and Senator Murray joined colleagues in objecting to new rules that weaken critical protections that help address discrimination in health care. Senators Murray and Cantwell have also repeatedly called on the administration to protect health care for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The legislation has been endorsed by the ACLU, Center for American Progress, Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, Human Rights Campaign, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Lambda Legal, The LGBTQ Task Force, NARAL, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Abortion Federation, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Women’s Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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