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HFA joined with twenty-eight other patient and health advocacy groups to issue the following statement  regarding a final rule released by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights/HHS on Friday, June 12th. The rule, interpreting anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act, removes explicit patient protections against discrimination by health care providers and insurers. The groups’ joint statement follows:

“By finalizing these changes, the Administration tries to unwind significant advances that have ensured vulnerable populations, including individuals with pre-existing conditions, are free from discrimination and able to access healthcare. The elimination of these important protections will result in severe consequences for the health and well-being of Americans seeking health care, especially those with serious, acute, chronic or other pre-existing conditions and those in vulnerable and under-served communities.

Many Americans and their dependents will now be less likely to access preventive, diagnostic, and critical health care, or to enforce their rights to obtain such care. This is especially detrimental to the health and well-being of those living with pre-existing conditions, as well as women, LGBTQI+ individuals, people with disabilities, and those with limited English proficiency.

These communities have long faced discrimination, bias, stigma, substandard care, and the denial of care. We are disturbed that the Administration is trying to undermine the equitable application and enforcement of the law—and making it more likely that providers and institutions will discriminate against millions of Americans in need of health care.

Particularly as the world confronts a global pandemic, these actions have no place within our system of care and put the public’s health at risk. Those that fear discrimination will be less likely to seek care and treatment for COVID-19. This puts the entire population at risk and undermines federal, state, and local efforts to control the virus. As a result, we express our continued opposition and deep concern over the changes finalized by the administration and urge immediate action to prevent this regulation from taking full effect.”

Six legal and advocacy organizations have already announced plans to challenge the rule in court. In the meantime, patients should be aware that the ACA provides statutory protection against discrimination – protection that continues notwithstanding the publication of the final rule.

 

 

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