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23 states sue Trump administration over LGBTQ health rollbacks

Attorneys general from 23 states sued the Trump administration for rolling back federal healthcare protections for LGBTQ people and people who have had abortions. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Attorneys general from 23 states sued the Trump administration for rolling back federal healthcare protections for LGBTQ people and people who have had abortions. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 20 (UPI) -- A coalition of 23 attorneys general sued the Trump administration over its decision to roll back federal anti-discrimination healthcare for LGBTQ people and those seeking reproductive care.

The suit, co-led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy, New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra alleges that the decision to roll back implementation of Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows discrimination against vulnerable and protected groups.

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"The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting some of our most vulnerable residents, yet this White House is moving forward with a rule that puts these communities at even further risk," said Healey. "We need to focus on expanding access to care -- not on rolling it back. We are suing to ensure our residents don't face unnecessary or discriminatory barriers in accessing the health care services they need."

Other states participating in the suit include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

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Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits federally funded health programs and facilities from discriminating against patients based on race, color, national origin, sex disability or age.

In June, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would enforce the rule "by returning to the government's interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology."

The lawsuit stated that the rule change is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the Administrative Procedure Act and would present opportunities for hospitals and insurance companies to deny care to transgender and nonbinary patients in addition to women who have had abortions.

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HHS Alex Azar and Roger Severino, head of the HHS's office of civil rights, are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges that the department ignored the harms the rule change will impose.

Late last month, a group of LGBTQ advocates and clinics also filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

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