Health, Human and Civil Rights Advocates Warn Trump HHS Will Weaken Health Law’s Nondiscrimination Provision

Health, Human and Civil Rights Advocates Warn Trump HHS Will Weaken Health Law’s Nondiscrimination Provision

Groups Say HHS Decision Will Reverse Course on Combating Discrimination in the Health Care System

Washington – Even as another attempt surfaces in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid funding, the Trump administration is working to revise a provision of the law (Section 1557) that outlaws discrimination against sex and gender identity in federally funded health programs.

In a media briefing call today, experts from the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Partnership for Women & Families, and the National Women’s Law Center explained why the nondiscrimination provision, Section 1557, of the ACA is integral to the law and how revising it will limit access to comprehensive health care for women and LGBTQ persons.

An audio recording of the call can be accessible here. The following are quotes from the groups’ speakers:

Mara Youdelman, managing attorney, D.C. office, National Health Law Program (NHeLP) said, “The Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision is integral to fighting against discrimination in the health care system. This discrimination has produced inequities that will take decades to overcome. If the Trump administration changes the rule, it will weaken if not eliminate protections for women, patients with limited-English proficiency, and members of the LGBTQ community. This revision would undermine the intent and purpose of Section 1557. Such an action would also add to the Trump administration’s string of depraved efforts to sabotage the ACA.”

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO, National Women’s Law Center said, “No one should be denied health care or health insurance because of his or her sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers and health care providers to treat women and LGBTQ individuals fairly. We will fight the Trump Administration’s efforts to take us back to a time when there were few protections against the discrimination patients experienced at the hands of insurance companies and health care providers.”

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “Section 1557 is key to ensuring that all Americans can lead healthy lives, free of discriminatory barriers, and enjoy the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 builds on longstanding federal civil rights laws, and is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit sex discrimination in health care. Attempts to weaken those protections is a direct assault on all the communities the rule protects, including people of color, women, people with disabilities, seniors, people whose primary language is not English, immigrants, and LGBTQ individuals. All individuals need to be protected from discrimination in health coverage or care. We expect the Department of Health and Human Services to fully enforce the law.”

Judith L. Lichtman, senior advisor, National Partnership for Women & Families said, “The Affordable Care Act’s section 1557 was a historic step forward for our nation. It is the first federal civil rights law ever to broadly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded health programs. It also prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability and age. It is a game-changer that, over time, holds the promise of helping reduce the disparities that plague our health care system. Losing it would be every bit as devastating to efforts to advance fairness and equality in this nation as anything President Trump has done. We will fight hard to protect section 1557. We are absolutely determined not to return to the days when there was no recourse against sex discrimination in health care.”

Harper Jean Tobin, policy director, National Center for Transgender Equality said, “We hear almost every day from transgender people facing discrimination in health care –
being told ‘we won’t treat people like you,’ or denied coverage for medications and treatments provided to others. Section 1557 has helped us make tremendous progress, with HHS resolving many cases of harmful discrimination against patients. So while the full impact of a repeal is impossible to predict, one thing is clear to us: no one should face discrimination when it comes to health care.”

Please contact NHeLP’s Director of Communications Jeremy Leaming for further comment on today’s media briefing.

NHeLP, founded in 1969, advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access quality health care.

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