California Attorney General's Office

08/13/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/13/2019 13:09

Attorney General Becerra Co-Leads Coalition of 22 Attorneys General Condemning the Trump Administration’s Proposed Rule that Eliminates Anti-Discrimination Protections in[...]

The proposed rule will eliminate protections against discrimination for women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable populations

SACRAMENTO - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in submitting a comment letter opposing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) proposed rule to drastically undermine Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in federal healthcare programs, benefits, and services. Specifically, Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age. The proposed rule would roll back anti-discrimination protections for women, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, and individuals with disabilities by undermining critical legal protections that guarantee healthcare as a right.

'This proposed rule is not only unlawful, it opens the door to discrimination in our healthcare system and threatens members of our families-women, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and those individuals with limited English proficiencies,' said Attorney General Becerra. 'The Trump Administration has made abundantly clear that it has no regard for access to affordable, quality healthcare. In California, we will continue to ensure every community, regardless of stripe or stature, can continue to access comprehensive medical services. We will not turn back the clock - we will fight for the right of every Californian and American to access healthcare.'

The ACA prohibits discrimination in federal healthcare-from Medicaid, Medicare, and the healthcare exchanges, to federal healthcare grant programs providing safeguards against discrimination. Further, the ACA expressly seeks to provide equity in healthcare and prohibits any regulation that creates unreasonable barriers for individuals to obtain healthcare. The proposed rule contradicts this and other federal civil rights laws by sanctioning discrimination in our healthcare system. It will withdraw key protections, placing patients at greater risk of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age.

In today's letter the Attorneys General emphasize that the rule would undermine the robust anti-discrimination protections set under current law.

This would specifically harm:

  • Women: The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, recovery from childbirth, or related conditions. It would lead to the denial of service related to reproductive health, resulting in an increase in unintended pregnancies.
  • LGBTQ Individuals: The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping and gender identity. It would lead LGBTQ individuals, who already experience barriers to receiving medical services, to avoid seeking healthcare services.
  • Individuals with Limited English Proficiency: The proposed rule reverses protections for nearly 25 million people in the United States who do not speak English 'very well' and may be considered limited English proficient. It would reverse language assistance requirements that ensure individuals are able to communicate with their healthcare service and coverage providers.
  • Individuals Living with Disabilities: The proposed rule seeks to reverse requirements set in place to ensure providers make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures when necessary, to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.

Joining Attorney General Becerra and Attorney General Healey in filing the comment letter are the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai'i, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Today's comment letter is Attorney General Becerra's latest effort in his fight to protect the ACA and ensure Californians have access to high quality affordable care. Attorney General Becerra is currently leading a coalition of 21 attorneys general in defending the ACA and the healthcare of millions of Americans in Texas v. United States. He is also defending against the Trump Administration's harmful birth control rules that allow denial of care by employers in California v. Azar.

A copy of the letter can be found here.