Trump administration agrees to delay healthcare rule

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Trump administration in the United States (US) has agreed to postpone implementing a rule allowing medical workers to decline performing abortions or other treatments on moral or religious grounds while the so-called “conscience” rule is challenged in a California court.

The rule was supposed to take effect on July 22 but the US Department of Health and Human Services and its opponents in a California lawsuit mutually agreed last Friday to delay a final ruling on the matter until November 22.

The agency called it the “most efficient way to adjudicate” the rule.

A federal judge in San Francisco permitted the change last Saturday.

A California lawsuit alleges that the department exceeded its authority with the rule, which President Trump announced in May.

The measure known as Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority would require institutions that receive money from federal programmes to certify that they comply with some 25 federal laws protecting conscience and religious rights.

The department has previously said that past administrations have not done enough to protect such rights in the medical field.

The rule is a priority for religious conservatives, but critics fear it will become a pretext for denying medical attention to certain community.

San Francisco would have faced losing about USD1 billion in federal funding for health care-related programmes if the rule took effect, according to the statement from his office.