WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) joined a group of colleagues in commenting on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed rule prohibiting discrimination in health care under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.
In their comment letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and the Department’s Director of the Office for Civil Rights, Melanie Fontes Rainer, the group of senators applauded the Biden Administration for restoring and expanding key nondiscrimination protections dismantled by the Trump Administration and urged to strengthen protections for underserved communities.
“This proposal is an important step forward to help ensure no one in our country has their health care undermined by discrimination or bigotry, and we urge the Department to further strengthen protections for people with disabilities, trans people, and people seeking to access care for pregnancy, infertility, or related conditions,” wrote the senators to Secretary Becerra and Director Fontes.
The senators urged HHS to take additional steps to strengthen protections for people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ patients, and explicitly prohibit discrimination against patients because of their medical history or for seeking out services like abortion, contraception, miscarriage management, fertility care, or maternity care, particularly in light of the Dobbs decision and ongoing attacks on Americans’ reproductive rights.
“Recent and ongoing threats to health care access underscore why eliminating discrimination in health care programs and activities remains such an essential goal. The Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Dobbs upended abortion rights and left tens of millions of women without access to critical, lifesaving care and in danger of grave health consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated existing health inequities, particularly in communities of color and for people with disabilities. And the transgender community is facing a barrage of discriminatory attacks that deny patients access to gender-affirming care and create barriers to treatment,” the senators said. “In the face of such obstacles, it is as important as ever that the Administration work to ensure everyone has the right to get the care they need—and undo the harm caused to patients by the Trump Administration’s rule.”
In 2020, Sens. Menendez co-led a group of 30 colleagues in sending a letter to Trump’s HHS Secretary blasting the Administration’s intention to finalize a proposed rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to roll back anti-discrimination protections for millions of American patients.
The comment letter was also signed by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D- Minn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).