A church (Photo: Cardaf/Thinkstock)

The Trump administration was sued by a coalition of almost two dozen states and cities over a new federal rule that will allow businesses and individuals to refuse health care services based on employees’ religious beliefs or moral convictions.

(Related: Judge Blocks Trump Contraception Opt-Out Rules Nationwide)

The rule, set to take effect in July, would allow health care employees including ambulance drivers, emergency-room doctors, receptionists and customer-service representatives at insurance companies to refuse care in violation of patients’ constitutional rights, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.

The plaintiffs, including the cities of New York and Chicago, say they risk losing billions of dollars in federal health care funding if states and municipalities fail to comply with the change. The Department of Health and Human Services has said the rule change is needed to protect the religious freedom of employees who may object to some health care procedures.

“The federal government is giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients –-a gross misinterpretation of religious freedom that will have devastating consequences on communities throughout the country,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who’s leading the group, said in a statement.

Roger Severino, director of the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, said the rule provides enforcement tools for “conscience protection laws” that have been on the books for decades.

— Read Trump Religion Rule Curbs Obama Administration Birth Control Coverage, on ThinkAdvisor.

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