arizona capitol
Bill Would Require Health Care Entities, Insurers to Disclose Religious Denial Of Services

January 17, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

The “Patient’s Right to Know Act,” HB2196, would require both health care facilities to disclose any religious denial of services, and then require insurance providers to relay that information to their enrollees. The first half of the bill described how health care providers must offer a list of those services, while the second half described how insurance providers must give enrollees those services denied by the list of facilities within their network.

State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson) introduced the bill. Others that sponsored the bill included Representatives Richard Andrade (D-Glendale), Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren (D-Red Mesa), Kelli Butler (D-Phoenix), Andrés Cano (D-Tucson), Andrea Dalessandro (D-Sahuarita), Brian Fernandez (D-Yuma), Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix), Christopher Mathis (D-Tucson), Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Phoenix), Judy Schwiebert (D-Phoenix), Christian Solorio (D-Phoenix), and State Senator Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita). 

The bill offered an expansive definition of religious beliefs to include philosophical beliefs or anything that deviates from the consensus within the health care community. The bill didn’t disclose how those “legal, peer-reviewed, or scientifically accepted standards” were determined. 

“‘Religious beliefs’ means any set of philosophical or religious beliefs, guidelines, decrees or directives or other instructions determining patient care that are not based on legal, peer-reviewed or scientifically accepted standards of health care and that may be imposed on a health care entity through employment or clinical privileges,” read the bill.

If passed, the bill would give health care facilities one year to come up with a complete list of services they don’t provide due to their religious services. They would also have to inform state and federal agencies that license or enroll facilities in reimbursement programs. 

Insurance providers, on the other hand, would have 18 months to comply. They would be helped along by another provision of the bill requiring health care facilities to give insurance providers a list of the denied services, and post that list online publicly. 

This is the sixth year in a row that Powers Hannley has brought forth her “Patient’s Right to Know Act.” Powers Hannley sits on the Health and Human Services Committee. According to Powers Hannley, the intent of her bill is to eradicate all influence of religious beliefs in the health care sector for good. 

In a blog post published a year before the infamous Capitol Hill riot and several months before the emergency state declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic — January 6, 2020 — Powers Hannley explained that she introduced the bill originally with abortion and birth control in mind. However, she began to envision other health care service denials, citing the denial of a hormone prescription to a transgender woman.

At the time, Powers Hannley characterized the increasing number of Catholic-owned hospitals as “very scary.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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