Column: UC Regents tighten their rules on deals with Catholic hospitals

The University of California Board of Regents on Wednesday tightened UC’s rules on affiliations with hospitals that impose religious restrictions on care.

The policy approved almost unanimously by the board places greater limits than before on interference by religious authorities with the medical judgments of UC physicians practicing at sectarian hospitals.

The policy states that UC physicians must be permitted to provide any treatment to a patient at a sectarian hospital even if the treatment violates religious restrictions and the patient can’t be safely transferred to another facility.

Affiliated hospitals will have until Dec. 31, 2023, to comply with the policy, or the affiliation agreement must be canceled.We know that transfers are not always in the patient’s interest,” board Chair John A. Pérez, who crafted the key language approved by the board, said after the board’s meeting, conducted remotely Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday’s vote capped two years of debate at UC about its practice of forging partnerships with hospital chains that impose “policy-based” restrictions on healthcare on their premises. In practice, the term applies to Catholic hospitals, which generally adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a product of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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