August 14, 2019
Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general submitting a comment letter opposing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed rule. The rule drastically undermines Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that 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. By undermining critical legal protections that guarantee healthcare as a right, the proposed rule would roll back anti-discrimination protections for women, the LGBTQ community, individuals with limited English proficiency, and individuals with disabilities.
The ACA prohibits discrimination in federal healthcare—from Medicaid, Medicare and the healthcare exchanges, to federal healthcare grant programs providing safeguards against discrimination. Moreover, 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 and other federal civil rights laws by sanctioning discrimination in our healthcare system.
“The Trump Administration wants to give out licenses to discriminate, and attorneys general like myself won’t tolerate it,” said AG Ford. “Every Nevadan, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age should be able to see their health care provider.”
In the letter, the attorneys general emphasize that the rule would undermine the robust anti-discrimination protections set under current law. If implemented, the proposed rule would specifically harm:
Women: The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy and 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 Community: 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 altogether.
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.
In addition to Nevada, other states and territories participating in the comment letter include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, 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 is attached.