The state is considering a bill that is intended to provide insurers and healthcare providers choice.
A Florida bill currently under consideration is aiming to provide doctors and health insurance companies in the state permission to drop a patient or to choose not to pay for their health care based on what is being referred to as a “conscience-based objection.”
Concern was immediately raised regarding the risk of discrimination if HB1403 were to pass.
The highly controversial HB1403 could leave the door open for a broad spectrum of discrimination against minority groups, women, or people in the LGBTQ+ community. This could place the healthcare or health insurance coverage for these groups in peril.
The wording of the bill presents doctors and insurers with the ability to deny treatment if they determine that a patient’s care is in contradiction with their moral, religious or ethical beliefs. As a result, a patient with a different moral, religious or ethical belief system than their healthcare provider or insurer could risk being denied care or coverage for care provided.
Health insurance companies, patients and healthcare providers alike have voiced deep concern.
Samaritan Health and Wellness Clinic operator, Nurse Practitioner Dr. Sue Hook said that HB1403 is in opposition to everything she has learned in her four decades in healthcare.
“I have my belief system and my morals and ethics but I’m going to take care of people regardless of who they are and what they believe,” said Dr. Hook.
The bill would also give doctors and health insurance companies legal protection for the decisions they make to deny care or coverage based on a “conscience-based objection.” The bill does not require a physician to refer a patient to another healthcare provider if they decide not to provide that patient with care based on a conscience-based objection. This raises concerns for minorities, women and people in the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think professionals should treat everyone. But if they can’t treat them and be professional and ethical and nonjudgmental…they need to refer them to someone else,” said Dr. Laura Streyffeler, a mental health counselor. “It’s the prejudice that’s creating the bills. The bills aren’t creating the prejudice.”