The federal government is being warned about a legal battle by a religious freedom nonprofit after the Saint Francis Health System in Oklahoma was told to either extinguish a sacred candle in the hospital’s chapel or be denied federal funding. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty along with the law firm Yetter Coleman LLP sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the issue concerning the demand made by the Joint Commission to the hospital earlier this year to put out the candle that symbolizes Jesus’s presence in the Eucharist. The Joint Commission, an autonomous accrediting body, frequently serves as a means to fulfill prerequisites for Medicaid and Medicare certification in association with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is affiliated with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Fox News reports:
A religious liberty nonprofit is threatening the federal government with a legal battle after a Catholic hospitalin Oklahoma was offered the choice of either extinguishing a sacred candle in its chapel or being stripped of its federal funding.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the law firm Yetter Coleman LLP fired off a letter to officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week after the Joint Commission demanded earlier this year that Saint Francis Health System snuff out a candle that represents the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The Joint Commission is an independent accrediting organization whose findings are often used to meet conditions for Medicaid and Medicare certification with the HHS-affiliated Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Saint Francis Health System, which is the 12th-largest hospital in the U.S., was told following a hospital inspection in February that its solitary candle at Saint Francis Hospital South was a safety hazard and that it would lose its ability to accept Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if the flame was not removed, according to a letter sent to the hospital last month.
The letter maintained that the law requires flames be “placed in a substantial candle holder and supervised at all times they are lighted.”
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