House Health Leaders Condemn Final Rule to Erode Anti-Discrimination Protections Under the ACA
WASHINGTON – The chairs of the House committees with jurisdiction over health care condemned the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for finalizing a rule that weakens protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for LGBTQIA+ individuals, women, people with limited English proficiency, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, and patients from other marginalized communities and urged HHS Secretary Alex Azar to immediately rescind it.
The letter was signed by House Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), and House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY).
The letter follows the Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark case Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that protections against sex-based discrimination prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“We previously wrote to you on May 1, 2020, warning that, if finalized, this rule would ‘open the door to discrimination against patients in express contradiction to the plain language and intent of the law, and would therefore be illegal,” the Democratic Committee leaders wrote. “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County reaffirms that protections against sex discrimination apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. Any regulations sanctioning discrimination contradict the plain language of the law and defy Congress’s intent in passing the ACA.”
The committee chairs underscored the need for strong nondiscrimination protections for members of marginalized communities at all times, but particularly when many of these communities are already disproportionately facing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also urged you not to finalize this dangerous rule while the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” the Democratic Committee leaders wrote. “At this unprecedented time when nondiscriminatory access to health care is so vital for the wellbeing of all people in the United States, and yet out of reach for so many, the Administration’s actions sow unneeded fear and mistrust among those already facing inequity in the health care system and experiencing health disparities.”
To read the full letter, click here.