New York Attorney General Letitia James and her Connecticut counterpart William Tong are part of a coalition of 23 attorneys general filing a lawsuit to stop a new Trump administration rule that they claim will enable health care providers and insurance companies to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and non-English speakers.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule related to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that the department claimed “exceeded the scope of the authority delegated by Congress.”
HHS, in a statement on its website, announced it would “enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology. The 2016 Rule declined to recognize sexual orientation as a protected category under the ACA, and HHS will leave that judgment undisturbed.”
HHS added the final rule “also retains certain protections from 2016 Rule for non-English speakers, including the right to meaningful language access to health care, qualification standards for translators and interpreters, and limitations on the use of minors and family members as translators in health care settings.”
In its announcement, the department stated its actions would save the nation “approximately $2.9 billion in undue and ineffective regulatory burdens over five years.”
James, who is spearheading the coalition, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In announcing the action, she said the HHS’ action was a result of the administration’s animus against transgender and non-English-speaking individuals.
“Despite failing to repeal the ACA again and again, President Trump and his administration continue to unlawfully chip away at health care for Americans,” James said.
“By rolling back rules that ensure the ACA protects all Americans, the president is unlawfully giving health care providers and insurers license to deny care to LGBTQ+ individuals, those who do not speak English, and women. It is never acceptable to deny health care to Americans who need it, but it is especially egregious to do so in the middle of a pandemic.”
“Every person deserves access to health care free from discrimination – regardless of how you identify, the language you speak, or the person you love,” Tong said. “It is unconscionable that we are having this debate in the midst of a pandemic, and after the U.S. Supreme Court just affirmed in Bostock (v. Clayton County) that federal civil rights laws prohibit this very type of cruel and needless discrimination.”
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