LITTLE ROCK – The ACLU of Arkansas urged the United States Department of Health and Human Services not to roll back critical nondiscrimination protections for vulnerable people and communities. In comments submitted today objecting to proposed changes to the Health Care Rights Law, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the ACLU of Arkansas stressed the devastating health consequences for transgender people, those seeking reproductive health care including abortion, as well as people of color, people who are disabled, those with limited English proficiency, and others.
“No one should be blocked from care for being themselves. But two years after attempting to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions, the Trump administration is once again putting the health of Arkansans at risk by proposing to roll back critical nondiscrimination protections for our most vulnerable communities,” said Jayme Womack, policy director for the ACLU of Arkansas. “Health care discrimination causes lasting and life-threatening harm to people’s health and well-being, and transgender and non-binary people are especially vulnerable to being denied care.”
“Transgender and non-binary people belong in Arkansas and we will fight back against any attempts to erase transgender people from our laws,” said Holly Dickson, legal director and interim executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We should be working to be sure that all people are protected by the law, and that’s why we are pushing back against the federal government’s attempts to single out vulnerable groups for even harsher treatment.”
Since taking office, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back protections for transgender people in education, the military, prisons, and homeless shelters, in addition to health care. It has also supported allowing insurance companies to discriminate and deny care to people with pre-existing conditions like cancer and diabetes.
On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving Aimee Stephens who was fired because she is transgender. While a federal appeals court and the federal agency in charge of workplace discrimination complaints have said transgender people are protected from discrimination, the Department of Justice reversed positions under the Trump administration. However, in both health care and employment, the Trump administration cannot erase decades of court decisions saying trans people are protected under laws prohibiting sex discrimination.
Comments on the proposed rule are due to the federal government today.