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Seven GOP-led states sue to block Biden's new anti-discrimination healthcare rule

L.A. Pride parade participants walk along Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday, June 11. On Wednesday, a seven GOP-led state coalition sued to block a new rule aiming to prevent healthcare discrimination against transgender patients. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
L.A. Pride parade participants walk along Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday, June 11. On Wednesday, a seven GOP-led state coalition sued to block a new rule aiming to prevent healthcare discrimination against transgender patients. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

July 10 (UPI) -- Missouri and six other GOP-led states filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a new rule aimed at preventing discrimination in healthcare based on one's sex or gender identity, accusing the Biden administration of governmental overreach.

The states argue the proposed rule distorts the Affordable Care Act to compel doctors and states to perform and prescribe gender-affirming healthcare under threat of losing federal funding and access to federally funded programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's health Insurance Program. The rule was temporary halted by a judge two days before it was to go into effect last week.

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President Joe Biden "is once again exceeding his legal authority in order to force his radical transgender ideology onto American people," Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said in a statement Wednesday, accusing the Biden administration of holding funding from healthcare providers "hostage" if they don't administer gender-affirming healthcare.

The lawsuit comes as the Biden administration has sought to implement measures to protect LGBTQ Americans amid a Republican effort to restrict their rights.

According to a tally from the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 527 pieces of legislation it describes as "anti-LGBT bills" have been entered into legislatures across the country so far this year. The tally states 112 of those bills concern healthcare restrictions.

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The proposed rule, titled Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities, was put forward in May "to advance health equity and reduce disparities in healthcare," according to a factsheet on the measure from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Gender-affirming healthcare consists of medical, surgical, mental and non-medical services, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and is supported by every major U.S. medical association.

The seven states -- which include Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho and Arkansas -- argue in the lawsuit that it violates ACA as there is "no gender-transition mandate in that statute" nor in Title IX, which it is derived.

Making states' access to federally funded programs based on whether they follow the rule is "unconstitutional coercion" that "threatens to drive healthcare providers out of the practice of medicine entirely."

"This punishment would effectively preclude doctors and states from providing healthcare for the must vulnerable children in low-income communities," they said.

Last week, Senior U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola of Missouri put a temporary halt on the rule from going into effect in response to a lawsuit filed by Tennessee and a multi-state coalition in May.

Guirola ruled that "this court cannot accept the suggestion that Congress, with a 'clear voice,' adopted an ambiguous or evolving definition of 'sex' when it acted to promote educational opportunities for women in 1972," Guirola wrote in the ruling.

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"Title IX and its regulations not only permit, but at times require, consideration of sex as well as separation on the basis of sex."

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