Washington, D.C. (August 14, 2019) – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined 34 fellow Democratic senators to submit a comment letter for the record to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar criticizing the Trump Administration’s proposed rule to weaken critical protections that help address discrimination in health care. The senators outlined several issues with the proposed rule, including how it could harm patients who already face barriers when seeking care by emboldening insurers and health care providers to discriminate against them, and called on the Trump Administration to withdraw the proposal.
“We write to oppose the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS or the Department) proposed regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 2019. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including, but not limited to, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, and language proficiency. The proposed rule attempts to eliminate protections against discrimination for those who already struggle to access quality, affordable health care services. In advancing policies that not only allow discrimination – but in fact endorse it – HHS is abdicating its responsibility to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” wrote the Senators.
The full text of the letter is available here.
The letter was led by Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and in addition to Udall and Heinrich, signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-RI..), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).