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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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August 14, 2019


Proposed Rule will Eliminate Protections Against Discrimination for Women, People with Disabilities, and LGBTQ Community, Among Others

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with a coalition of 22 attorneys general, opposed a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal to roll back critical provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prohibit discrimination in federal health care programs, benefits and services.

In a comment letter submitted to HHS, Raoul and the attorneys general urged the department to withdraw its proposed rule that will limit a section of the ACA that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age. The coalition argued that the proposal will impact women, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency and individuals with disabilities by undermining critical legal protections that guarantee health care as a right.

“The department’s proposal will eliminate protections that prohibit discrimination and remove barriers to health care for populations more likely to experience discrimination in health care – LGBTQ individuals, women, people with disabilities, and those who are not proficient speaking English,” Raoul said. “I will continue to oppose policies that hinder access to critical health care services for anyone, particularly those who need it most.”

The ACA prohibits discrimination in federal health care – from Medicaid, Medicare, and the health care exchanges, to federal health care grant programs – by providing safeguards against discrimination. Further, the ACA expressly seeks to provide equity in health care and prohibits any regulation that creates unreasonable barriers to individuals obtaining health care. The proposed rule contradicts this and other federal civil rights laws by sanctioning discrimination in our health care system. It would withdraw key protections, placing patients at greater risk of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age.

In the letter, Raoul and the attorneys general emphasize that the rule would undermine the robust anti-discrimination protections under current law. Specifically, the rule would harm:

  • Women: The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and 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.
  • LGBTQ Individuals:The proposed rule reverses protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It would likely result in LGBTQ individuals, who already experience barriers to receiving medical care, avoiding seeking health care services entirely.
  • Individuals with Limited English Proficiency: The proposed rule reverses protections for nearly 25 million people in the United States who are not English proficient. It would reverse language assistance requirements that ensure individuals are able to communicate with their health care service and coverage providers.
  • Individuals Living with Disabilities: The proposed rule seeks to reverse requirements set in place to ensure all providers make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

Joining Raoul in submitting the letter were the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


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