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Nessel Joins Coalition of Attorneys General to Stop Trump Administration Rule That Would Permit Discrimination in Health Care

LANSING –  Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in filing a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York asking for the Trump administration’s discriminatory rule undermining Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be vacated and set aside. This first-in-kind provision in the ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in federal health care programs. The rule issued by the administration illegally rolls back these critical protections at a time when they are needed most to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The original Section 1557 provision in the Affordable Care Act was meant to further protections against discrimination in our nation’s health care system, yet the Trump administration’s rule instead advances an agenda that welcomes bigotry,” Nessel said. “The rule strikes down anti-discrimination protections for women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals and others, and my colleagues and I are left with no other choice but to take this action to address the federal government’s clearly biased agenda. By gutting our health care protections, Mr. Trump and his administration continue -- even in the midst of a pandemic – to show a blatant disregard for those most at risk.”

Section 1557 of the ACA is the first federal civil rights law to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in federal health programs.

In its motion, the coalition argues that the rule should be vacated in its entirety because:

  • It is contrary to law, including ACA Section 1557;
  • States will bear new administrative, regulatory, investigative, enforcement and health care burdens and costs because of it;
  • The removal of the definition of “on the basis of sex” and weakened protections for language assistance services is arbitrary and capricious; and
  • The rule’s addition of broad religious exemptions for abortion are arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law and exceed statutory authority. 

Months before the COVID-19 pandemic and prior to the finalization of the rule, Nessel and her colleagues condemned the current administration’s attempt to eliminate anti-discrimination protections in health care. In April, Nessel as part of a multistate coalition filed a comment letter urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) not to finalize its proposed regulation which sought to undermine Section 1557's critical anti-discrimination protections for marginalized populations including the LGBTQ community, women, communities of color and individuals with disabilities. In July, the coalition, filed a lawsuit challenging the final rule. Federal judges out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and the District of Columbia have recently blocked HHS from enforcing portions of the rule in cases filed by private litigants.

In today’s filing, Attorney General Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin in filing the motion.

A copy of the motion is available here.