Lambda Legal Urges Court to Apply Fair Standards Protecting Transgender People From Health Care Discrimination

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June 8, 2016
Today, Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in Ballenger v. Providence Hospital, a case in which a transgender woman argues a D.C. hospital discriminated against her because of her gender identity, in violation of Section 1557, the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision.
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services made clear that discrimination against LGBT people in health care settings violated the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision when it issued the Section 1557 final rule. 
Today we urged the district court not only to reaffirm that discrimination on the basis of gender identity constitutes unlawful sex discrimination, but also to interpret Section 1557 properly by evaluating all claims of discrimination the same way and under no less protective a standard than what already exists under the civil rights laws referenced in Section 1557.    
As the Section 1557 rule makes clear, a fundamental purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to ensure that health care services are available broadly on a nondiscriminatory basis to individuals throughout the country. 
Applying different legal standards to Section 1557 discrimination claims depending on the basis of discrimination alleged would lead to a legal crazy quilt that would burden the rights of patients and health care consumers. 
The court should keep in mind the Affordable Care Act’s overriding societal priority to ensure that individuals have nondiscriminatory access to health care and not allow health care institutions to avoid liability by shutting their eyes to discrimination.