Attorney General James Condemns New HHS Rule For Sabotaging The ACA  

The Rule Proposed by the Trump’s U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Eliminates Protections Against Discrimination for Women, People With Disabilities, the LGBTQ Community and Other Vulnerable Populations       

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James joined a coalition of 22 State Attorneys General in submitting a comment letter opposing the new proposed rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would drastically undermine Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1557 prohibits discrimination in federal healthcare programs, benefits, and services. Specifically, Section 1557 prohibits discrimination by health programs or facilities that receive federal funds--based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age.   

“The Trump Administration has been relentless in its efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and strip it of the protections it affords individuals,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “This proposed rule is yet another attempt to obstruct millions of Americans’ access to quality, affordable healthcare, but we won’t allow it. The ACA has been implemented for almost a decade, and we will vigorously defend it and the many protections it provides.”     

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.  This proposal would severely weaken all of the ACA’s anti-discrimination protections implemented to prevent discrimination in federal healthcare—from Medicaid, Medicare, and the healthcare exchanges, to federal healthcare grant programs providing safeguards against discrimination. Furthermore, 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 other federal civil rights laws by sanctioning discrimination in our healthcare system. It will withdraw key protections, placing patients at greater risk of discrimination because of gender identity or expression, race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and age.       

In this letter, the Attorneys General emphasized that the rule would undermine the robust anti-discrimination protections set under existing HHS regulations.    

This would specifically harm:   

  • Women: The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination because 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 based on 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.  

Joining Attorney General James in filing this letter, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and  Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, are also the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.   

In the Office of the New York State Attorney General, the case is being handled by Health Care Bureau Chief, Lisa Landau, under the supervision of Chief Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Meghan Faux and Chief Counsel for Federal Initiatives Matthew Colangelo.