FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kathy Melley, 617-275-2861
(BOSTON, MA) – Statement of Lois Uttley, Women’s Health Program Director for Community Catalyst, in response to the Trump administration’s announcement today of a proposed federal rule that would undermine enforcement of the non-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557)
“Today, the Trump administration took yet another step to sanction discrimination in health care, targeting women, LGBTQ+ people and non-English speakers who are seeking care.
“The administration released a proposed rule that would roll back portions of a 2016 Obama administration regulation interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the nondiscrimination provision, also known as the Health Care Rights Law. That provision prohibits any health program or activity that receives federal funding from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sex. The Obama rule interpreted sex discrimination to include any discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, their departure from traditional sex stereotypes or a patient’s request for, or past history of, termination of pregnancy.
“This proposed rule would send the wrong message to health care providers – suggesting it is permissible to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and women. It would eliminate anti-discrimination protections for more than two million transgender people in all health care settings. Providers could conclude they have been given the green light to engage in improper or hostile treatment of patients seeking such medical care as gender-affirming care, emergency terminations of pregnancy, pregnancy prevention for rape survivors and infertility services for LGBTQ+ couples. The rule also creates barriers to health care for non-English speakers by repealing requirements to inform limited English proficient people how to access language services. Government sanctioning of these forms of discrimination goes against the Hippocratic Oath of ‘Do No Harm,’ and its underlying principle that doctors should treat anyone who needs care, regardless of who they are.
“Making matters worse was the administration’s issuance earlier this month of a final rule that will greatly expand the ability of health care providers to refuse care based on personal religious or moral beliefs. Such denials of care will greatly affect women needing reproductive health services and transgender or gender nonconforming people.
“It is our position that all of this discrimination would still be outlawed by the ACA Section 1557 itself (which cannot be repealed by a regulatory action) and by existing case law interpreting sex discrimination more broadly. However, the rule could mean little or no action by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate complaints of this type of discrimination.
“We strongly oppose both of these administration moves to sanction discrimination, which has no place in our health system. The patient’s health must always come first.”
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.