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48.43.055  <<  48.43.065 >>   48.43.081

RCW 48.43.065

Right of individuals to receive services — Right of providers, carriers, and facilities to refuse to participate in or pay for services for reason of conscience or religion — Requirements.

(1) The legislature recognizes that every individual possesses a fundamental right to exercise their religious beliefs and conscience. The legislature further recognizes that in developing public policy, conflicting religious and moral beliefs must be respected. Therefore, while recognizing the right of conscientious objection to participating in specific health services, the state shall also recognize the right of individuals enrolled with plans containing the basic health plan services to receive the full range of services covered under the plan.

     (2)(a) No individual health care provider, religiously sponsored health carrier, or health care facility may be required by law or contract in any circumstances to participate in the provision of or payment for a specific service if they object to so doing for reason of conscience or religion. No person may be discriminated against in employment or professional privileges because of such objection.

     (b) The provisions of this section are not intended to result in an enrollee being denied timely access to any service included in the basic health plan services. Each health carrier shall:

     (i) Provide written notice to enrollees, upon enrollment with the plan, listing services that the carrier refuses to cover for reason of conscience or religion;

     (ii) Provide written information describing how an enrollee may directly access services in an expeditious manner; and

     (iii) Ensure that enrollees refused services under this section have prompt access to the information developed pursuant to (b)(ii) of this subsection.

     (c) The insurance commissioner shall establish by rule a mechanism or mechanisms to recognize the right to exercise conscience while ensuring enrollees timely access to services and to assure prompt payment to service providers.

     (3)(a) No individual or organization with a religious or moral tenet opposed to a specific service may be required to purchase coverage for that service or services if they object to doing so for reason of conscience or religion.

     (b) The provisions of this section shall not result in an enrollee being denied coverage of, and timely access to, any service or services excluded from their benefits package as a result of their employer's or another individual's exercise of the conscience clause in (a) of this subsection.

     (c) The insurance commissioner shall define by rule the process through which health carriers may offer the basic health plan services to individuals and organizations identified in (a) and (b) of this subsection in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2)(c) of this section.

     (4) Nothing in this section requires a health carrier, health care facility, or health care provider to provide any health care services without appropriate payment of premium or fee.

[1995 c 265 § 25.]

Notes:

     Captions not law -- Effective dates -- Savings -- Severability -- 1995 c 265: See notes following RCW 70.47.015.