California, 22 other AGs sue Trump admin over rolling back transgender protections

Dive Brief:

  • A coalition of 23 state attorneys general are suing President Donald Trump’s administration over peeling back protections for vulnerable groups included in the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Despite the gains provided by the landmark health law, the current administration “has repeatedly tried to take us back in time,” New York AG Leticia James, told reporters on Monday. The coalition is led by James and the AGs of California and Massachusetts.   
  • They argue a recent rule from the administration gives providers and insurers license to deny care to women, non-native speakers and members of the LGBTQ community. 

Dive Insight:

The coalition announced the multi-state effort to defend the Affordable Care Act on Monday, arguing the rollback of protections during a global pandemic disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups is particularly egregious.

“Hard to believe any President would willingly expose Americans to discrimination in healthcare. But that’s what President Trump’s latest rule would do,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Becerra is also leading a group of blue-leaning states defending the ACA now pending before the Supreme Court.

In this case, the AGs cite a section of the law that prohibits discrimination in healthcare based on gender, race, national origin, sex, age, or disability and broadly applies to health providers that receive federal financial assistance.

At issue is a 2019 Trump administration proposal to roll back some of those protections, which was finalized in June.

Instead of including protections based on gender identity, the current administration said it would interpret sex discrimination as only male or female and as “determined by biology.” The administration also blamed federal court rulings on the need to redefine sex discrimination.

HHS estimates the change will save taxpayers about $2.9 billion in “undue and ineffective regulatory burdens over five years.”

The AGs argue the rule will also make it easier for providers to deny access to abortion services.

The American Hospital Association previously said it discouraged HHS from moving forward with the changes. 

“We are deeply disappointed that this rule weakens important protections for patients and could limit coverage,” AHA CEO Rich Pollack said in a statement in June.

Earlier this summer in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court decided in a 6-3 decision that an employer who “fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates” the law. It’s unclear whether this ruling will bolster the coalition’s case against HHS.

Posted in Law

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