HHS wants input on obstacles facing faith-based providers

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The Department of Health and Human Services wants to hear from faith-based healthcare providers about any challenges or obstacles they face participating in federal healthcare programs, according to a recent notice.

The request for information, issued last week, aims to “remove barriers” for religious and faith-based groups that participate in programs like Medicaid and Medicare. To do so, HHS asked providers to weigh in on any regulations or requirements for participation that they perceive as obstacles to providing care.

That information will be used to “remove obstacles” and encourage religious providers' participation in federal healthcare programs; make sure such providers are not excluded from eligibility for federal funding; ensure that providers' beliefs are accommodated for and respected; and improve HHS' understanding of the role faith-based providers play in the nation's healthcare landscape, the department said.

The request for comment follows an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Oct. 6 instruction that “religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity.”

Roughly 344,000 religious congregations sponsor more than 1.6 million health or social services programs, HHS said. More than half of the country's continuing care retirement communities were faith-based as of 2013.

Public comments are due by Nov. 24.