Commenting on a proposed rule protecting statutory conscience rights in health care, the AHA today reiterated that conscience protections for health care professionals "are long-standing and deeply rooted in our health care delivery system" and noted hospitals' commitment to respecting the conscience objections of hospital employees and medical staff and at the same time ensuring patients have access to necessary care. AHA urged the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights to ensure that enforcement policies and practices applicable to the conscience protections are comparable to the long-standing policies and practices applicable when guaranteeing other civil rights protections for employees and staff. OCR should adopt a framework that takes into account "particular facts and circumstances to determine that a hospital has done all it reasonably could under the circumstances to accommodate conscience objections of employees or medical staff," wrote AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. Among other comments, AHA said the rule should affirmatively recognize the due process rights of federal fund recipients, be explicit about the grounds for imposing any contemplated sanction and identify the related procedural protections. To reduce unnecessary burden on regulated parties, AHA also urged OCR not to require the burdensome and unnecessary reporting of contacts by OCR to HHS components from which they receive funding.