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Committee Chairs Call on Trump Administration to Abandon Rollback of Anti-Discrimination Protections in Health Care

Aug 15, 2019
Press Release
“These changes would place an unnecessary barrier to justice for patients who have been subject to discrimination in health care settings.”

Today, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (MA-01) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging the Department to withdraw a proposal that would severely undermine civil rights protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

On June 14, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services published a proposed rule that would narrow the application of Section 1557 of the ACA, which ensures that patients have full access to care without being subject to discrimination. Section 1557 ensures that patients have the protections outlined in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“As Chairs of House Committees with legislative and oversight jurisdiction over the ACA, we are committed to ensuring the administration fully implements the requirements of this landmark law,” the chairs wrote. “Unfortunately, by rolling back the provisions of Section 1557 and opening the door to discrimination against patients in health care settings, the proposed rule is a harmful step in the wrong direction.”

The chairs specifically expressed concern that the proposed rule would sanction discrimination against LGBTQ+ patients, individuals with limited English proficiency, and embolden providers to deny women access to health care.

“We urge HHS to immediately withdraw this proposal in its entirety and join our efforts to strengthen – rather than weaken – access to health care and fundamental civil rights protections,” the chairs wrote.

The full text of the letter here.  

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