ACLU, supporters urge Trump administration not to roll back healthcare protections

Aug. 15, 2019

Over 20,000 ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) advocates urged the Department of Health and Human Services to abandon a Trump administration proposal that would roll back anti-discrimination protections in healthcare, reported the ACLU in a news release one day after the comment period for the rule closed on August 13.

State affiliates and the thousands of advocates told HHS that the proposal would hurt transgender and nonbinary people, as well as all women and other communities historically marginalized in healthcare. Louise Melling, deputy legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union, issued the joint statement.

“One in three transgender people experience discrimination in healthcare. The Trump administration’s efforts to roll back protections for transgender and non-binary people will lead to even more people being turned away from emergency rooms and doctors’ offices as well as being denied insurance coverage. People seeking, or who have obtained, reproductive health services, as well as those who face discrimination based on disabilities, race, and limited English proficiency are also endangered by this proposal.”

The Protect Trans Health Campaign, including the ACLU, submitted more than 132,400 comments opposing the proposed rule during the comment period.

A fact sheet from HHS includes but is not limited to the following statements:

· The proposal would relieve the American people of $3.6 billion in unnecessary regulatory costs over five years, mainly by eliminating the mandate for entities to send patients and customers “notice and tagline” inserts in 15 foreign languages that have not proven effective at accomplishing their intended purpose. Covered entities report that they send billions of these notices by mail each year.

· Although Congress prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in 1972 (Title IX), and Section 1557 applied that law to healthcare and the Exchanges established under the ACA, HHS’s 2016 Section 1557 regulation redefined discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include gender identity and termination of pregnancy and defined gender identity as one’s internal sense of being “male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”

· This brief follows the position taken by DOJ before the Supreme Court in a brief filed in October 2018, where the United States took the position that sex for purposes of Title VII refers to biological sex. On April 22, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court granted petitions for writs of certiorari in three cases, which raise the question whether Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex also bars discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.