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Attorney General Josh Stein Commends Federal Proposal to Prevent Discrimination in Health Care

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today supported the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed rule to strengthen anti-discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposed rule would implement Section 1557 of the ACA, which prohibits discrimination in federal health care programs, benefits, and services, and strengthen protections for women, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with limited English proficiency, and those with disabilities.

“Discrimination in health care puts people’s health and lives at risk,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Preventing discrimination in health care not only helps all people become healthier, it saves the taxpayer from having to pick up the tab of their care through our public health systems. I’m pleased that the federal government is taking steps to protect North Carolinians’ care.”

Section 1557 was undermined significantly in 2020 when the Trump administration’s HHS finalized a rule rolling back those protections, effectively sanctioning discrimination in our health care system. The Biden administration’s HHS is now proposing a revision to restore these comprehensive anti-discrimination protections.

Preventing discrimination in health care will reduce adverse health outcomes, the costs of which would otherwise be borne by the states’ public health systems. In addition, limiting the scope of Section 1557 as the 2020 rule sought to do increases the burden on the states to monitor and enforce nondiscrimination laws.

The proposed rule will:

  • Prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy-related medical conditions such as past pregnancy and the termination of pregnancy.
  • Prohibit sex discrimination based on gender identity, including against transgender people.
  • Establish detailed language access requirements to ensure people of all national origins, including those with limited English proficiency, have meaningful access to health programs and activities.
  • Recognize that the prohibition on discrimination in health care encompasses algorithms, like clinical decision-making tools.

In filing the comment letter, Attorney General Stein joins the Attorneys General of California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect access to health care:


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