Trump’s new rule would roll back civil rights protections in healthcare law

Nondiscrimination protections under the ACA are at risk

ALBUQUERQUE—In a move that will especially harm trans people, the LGBTQ+ community, patients who speak languages other than English, and people who need access to abortion services, the Trump administration proposed rolling back enforcement of nondiscrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act. New Mexico advocates who champion access to healthcare urge New Mexicans to publicly oppose Trump’s latest threat to healthcare accessibility.  

The ACA’s landmark nondiscrimination provision, known as Section 1557 or the Health Care Rights Law, protects patients from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability. Comments on proposed changes to Section 1557 must be submitted with the Federal Register by August 13, 2019.

“Discrimination has no place in health care,” said William Townley, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Healthcare Attorney. “Rolling back Section 1557 would allow discrimination and stereotyping to override patient care. This will endanger the health and lives of many New Mexicans and create needless confusion for providers and patients alike. We encourage individuals and groups to submit public comments with the Federal Register voicing opposition to the rollback of these important legal protections.”

“A patient’s health and wellbeing should always come first,” said Adrian N. Carver, Equality New Mexico Executive Director. “Giving healthcare professionals a license to discriminate against queer and transgender people is unacceptable. Rules that allow providers to ignore standard medical best practices and instead put their personal beliefs before patient health has the potential to gravely harm thousands of people and their families’ health. Our community must submit comment on these rules because, if enacted, these regulations threaten to completely upend the careful balance of religious freedom and other important human rights and instead grant providers a license to put their personal views before the healthcare needs of the patient.” 

The Trump administration is proposing rules that would reinterpret Section 1557 by

  • exempting a broad number of healthcare programs and entities from having to comply with Section 1557’s nondiscrimination provisions;
  • eliminating nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ persons from regulations;
  • ending provisions that ensure people who speak languages other than English receive critical notices in the language they speak; 
  • removing protections against health plan designs that discriminate against people with serious or chronic health conditions.

“In addition to erasing the gender identity of individuals who identify outside of the binary choices of male or female, the proposed rule would gravely harm access to healthcare. The rule would let hospitals and clinics refuse to provide abortions based on religious or conscience concerns, even when there are no other providers in the area that could provide care,” said Terrelene Massey, Southwest Women’s Law Center Executive Director. “In a state such as New Mexico, which is largely rural, people do not always have a choice for where to go. In Santa Fe County, for example, the main provider of healthcare services is Catholic affiliated. Finding a medical provider without religious or conscience concerns would require a person to travel great distances and likely pay additional costs for using a provider out of their insurance network. The proposed Section 1557 changes could result in great bodily harm or even death to some, simply because of where they happen to live.”

Individuals can submit comments on proposed changes to Section 1557 at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/06/14/2019-11512/nondiscrimination-in-health-and-health-education-programs-or-activities

Action Alert: Act Now Against TrumpCare — Don’t Take Healthcare Away from Millions of Americans!

The U.S. Senate will vote very soon – likely next week – on its version of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s called the Better Care Reconciliation Act but it won’t provide better care at all. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 22 million Americans will lose coverage if the bill becomes law.

  • Pay More For Less – The bill will make low- and middle- income New Mexicans spend more for less healthcare coverage. It will increase out of pocket costs, while reducing tax credits that help people buy private insurance.
  • New Mexicans Will Lose Healthcare Coverage – Medicaid expansion will be phased out starting in 2021. This will jeopardize healthcare coverage for 260,000 low-income adults in New Mexico.
  • Medicaid Funding Will Be Slashed – The rest of the Medicaid budget will be cut by shifting the program to a per capita cap system – giving New Mexico a set amount to spend per person rather than a federal match for actual state costs for Medicaid. If costs grow faster than the state’s set amount, New Mexico will have to make even deeper cuts to Medicaid services and eligibility for children, people with disabilities, and seniors.
  • Consumer Protections Will Be Gutted – States will be allowed to opt-out of covering “essential health benefits” (doctors, prescriptions, maternity and newborn care, and mental healthcare).
  • Huge Tax Breaks For The Wealthy – The bill will make all of these devastating cuts to healthcare to give tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations.

What Can You Do? Senators Heinrich and Udall are fighting hard to protect our healthcare. However, you can call 6 key Senators in neighboring states who are considering voting for the bill. Please call them THIS WEEK and tell them to vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act!

Senator Jeff Flake (AZ):  (202) 224-4521

Senator John McCain (AZ): (202) 224-2235

Senator Cory Gardner (CO): (202) 224-5941

Senator Dean Heller (NV): (202) 224-6244

Senator Mike Lee (UT): (202) 224-5444

Senator Ted Cruz (TX): (202) 224-5922