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Attorney General William Tong

08/13/2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG JOINS COALITION CONDEMNING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSED RULE THAT ELIMINATES ANTI-DISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS IN HEALTHCARE

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

(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong joined 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.

"The Affordable Care Act expressly prohibits discrimination in federal healthcare programs. One would think we could all agree this is a good thing for us all. This rule to sanction and legalize healthcare discrimination is yet one more attempt by the Trump Administration to bully marginalized and vulnerable individuals. Healthcare is a right, and discrimination that results in the denial of necessary healthcare services to any individuals is wrong—period," said Attorney General Tong.

The ACA prohibits discrimination in federal healthcare programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, the healthcare exchanges, and federal healthcare grant programs. 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 guarantee, as well as 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.

The proposed rule 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.

Attorney General Tong joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in filing the comment letter, alongside the Attorneys General of 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.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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