Attacks on Health Care Anti-Discrimination Rule Could Face Legal Challenge

Use quotes to search for exact phrases. Use AND/OR/NOT between keywords or phrases for more precise search results.

News Law and Policy

Attacks on Health Care Anti-Discrimination Rule Could Face Legal Challenge

Jessica Mason Pieklo

“This lawsuit aims to undermine critical protections against discrimination in health care. No one—whether they’re male or female, transgender or not—should fear being turned away at the hospital door because of who they are,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU, said in a statement.

Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Texas on Friday asked a federal court to allow them to intervene in a case challenging a section of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prohibits health-care providers from discriminating based on race, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

A group of states and religiously-affiliated health-care organizations in August sued the Obama administration, arguing Section 1557 of the ACA is a “radical invasion of the federal bureaucracy into a doctor’s medical judgment” and “seeks to override the medical judgment of healthcare professionals across the country.”

These groups argue for the legal right to screen and then refuse to provide necessary medical care to LGBTQ people and women because of religious objections to those health-care services. But Section 1557 does not have a religious carve-out to allow the plaintiffs to discriminate in the delivery of care, which is why they filed their lawsuit, Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell—to seek such a carveout.

The request by advocacy groups to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of their members argues that the plaintiffs in Franciscan Alliance seek to undermine critical anti-discrimination measures and to allow religion to be used to deny their members medical care.

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

Follow Rewire News Group on Twitter to stay on top of every breaking moment.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

“Religion should never be used as a weapon to deny any Texan the care she needs,” Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “Women seeking reproductive care and transgender Texans deserve access to health care on the same basis as everyone else, and it’s appalling that the state of Texas would join this suit in an attempt to deny it to them.”

The River City Gender Alliance joined in the ACLU’s request to deny plaintiffs a court order permitting discrimination against women and transgender people seeking medical care. The plaintiff states and organizations spend millions in taxpayer dollars, employ thousands of health-care workers, and operate a wide network of hospitals and health-care facilities, according to the motion to intervene.

Granting their request to screen patients based on religious doctrine would allow hospitals and health-care centers to turn away transgender patients seeking medically necessary gender-confirming care or women seeking reproductive health care, attorneys for the ACLU argue.

“This lawsuit aims to undermine critical protections against discrimination in health care. No one—whether they’re male or female, transgender or not—should fear being turned away at the hospital door because of who they are,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU, said in a statement. “Religious liberty does not mean the right to discriminate or harm others.”

Along with the Franciscan Alliance, other plaintiffs in the case are the Christian Medical & Dental Associations and the states of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, and Kansas.