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Attorney General Josh Stein Condemns Administration’s Proposed Rule that Eliminates Anti-Discrimination Protections in Health Care

Release date: 8/13/2019

The proposed rule will eliminate protections against discrimination for women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable populations
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today opposed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed rule to drastically undermine Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in federal health care programs, benefits, and services. Specifically, Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age. 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 health care as a right.
“Health care is life strengthening and lifesaving,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “This rule would allow for discrimination against women, people with disabilities, people who are LGBTQ, or people who are not proficient in English. I will do everything in my power to protect North Carolinians’ – all North Carolinians’ – health care.”
The ACA prohibits discrimination in federal health care—from Medicaid, Medicare, and the health care exchanges, to federal health care grant programs providing safeguards against discrimination. Further, the ACA expressly seeks to provide equity in health care and prohibits any regulation that creates unreasonable barriers for individuals to obtain health care. The proposed rule contradicts this and other federal civil rights laws by sanctioning discrimination in our health care system. It will withdraw key protections, placing patients at greater risk of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age.
Attorney General Stein signed a letter along with 21 other attorneys general to emphasize that the rule would undermine the robust anti-discrimination protections set under current law. 
This would specifically harm:
  1. Women: The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination on the basis 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.
  2. LGBTQ People: 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 health care services.
  3. People 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 health care service and coverage providers.
  4. People 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.
Attorney General Stein joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in filing the comment letter, alongside the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. 
A copy of the letter can be found here.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484


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