(a) General rule.
(1) An MA organization may not prohibit or otherwise restrict a health care professional, acting within the lawful scope of practice, from advising, or advocating on behalf of, an individual who is a patient and enrolled under an MA plan about -
(i) The patient's health status, medical care, or treatment options (including any alternative treatments that may be self-administered), including the provision of sufficient information to the individual to provide an opportunity to decide among all relevant treatment options;
(ii) The risks, benefits, and consequences of treatment or non-treatment; or
(iii) The opportunity for the individual to refuse treatment and to express preferences about future treatment decisions.
(2) Health care professionals must provide information regarding treatment options in a culturally-competent manner, including the option of no treatment. Health care professionals must ensure that individuals with disabilities have effective communications with participants throughout the health system in making decisions regarding treatment options.
(b) Conscience protection. The general rule in paragraph (a) of this section does not require the MA plan to cover, furnish, or pay for a particular counseling or referral service if the MA organization that offers the plan -
(1) Objects to the provision of that service on moral or religious grounds; and
(2) Through appropriate written means, makes available information on these policies as follows:
(i) To CMS, with its application for a Medicare contract, within 10 days of submitting its bid proposal or, for policy changes, in accordance with all applicable requirements under subpart V of this part.
(ii) To prospective enrollees, before or during enrollment.
(c) Construction. Nothing in paragraph (b) of this section may be construed to affect disclosure requirements under State law or under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
(d) Sanctions. An MA organization that violates the prohibition of paragraph (a) of this section or the conditions in paragraph (b) of this section is subject to intermediate sanctions under subpart O of this part.