RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A nonprofit that helps the indigent pay for health insurance and medication claims in court the Trump administration has placed a "stranglehold" on the charity's ability to discuss its needs with prospective and current donors, including pharmaceutical companies.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Richmond, Patient Services Inc. claims a March 2017 policy change imposed by the defendant Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Inspector General infringes on its Free Speech rights and dramatically diminishes its ability to share and gather information vital to the people it serves.
“We see these [as] draconian restrictions to information we can ask for and obtain from donors or potential donors, which includes pharmaceutical companies,” said Neil Millhiser, who represents for the 28-year-old nonprofit.
“We’re no longer able to ask donors or potential donors [about these things] when setting up new programs or modifying programs,” he said.
According to the complaint, Patient Services Inc. had to agree to comply with the policy or face being stripped of its ability to support its clients.
“There’s no way to appeal these opinions once they’ve been issued so we have no choice but litigation,” Millhiser said.
The attorney said as a result of the new policy, Patient Services Inc.'s budget has been slashed by 17 percent and it has had to stop taking new clients and developing new programs.
In a statement provided to Courthouse News, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said the agency does not comment on ongoing litigation.