(July 9, 2020, Washington, DC) — Today, Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Lambda Legal asked a federal district court to prevent the health care discrimination rule the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published from taking effect on August 18, 2020. The rule seeks to exclude LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations from regulatory protections under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, among other bases.
Today's filing is the latest action in the lawsuit – Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS – Steptoe and Lambda Legal filed on June 22 on behalf of Whitman-Walker Health, the TransLatin@ Coalition and its members, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Los Angeles LGBT Center, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, AGLP: The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists, and four individual doctors.
Steptoe partner Laurie Edelstein, who leads the firm's representation, stated: "Publication of the rule alone already has caused harm and confusion among LGBTQ people. This harm and confusion will only increase if the rule is allowed to go into effect, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has harmed vulnerable communities disproportionately."
The HHS rule was published on June 19, four days after the US Supreme Court held that discrimination on the basis of a person's transgender status or sexual orientation is discrimination on the basis of sex. The rule attempts to limit protections for LGBTQ people under the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provisions and invites health care workers, doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies that receive federal funding to refuse to provide or cover health care services critical to the health and well-being of LGBTQ people, such as gender-affirming and reproductive care. The rule also seeks to limit the remedies available to people who face health disparities, limit access to health care for people with limited English proficiency, and dramatically reduce the number of health care entities and insurance subject to the rule.
Along with Edelstein, the multi-office Steptoe team includes partner Michael Vatis, with associates Johanna Dennehy, Khristoph Becker, and Laura Lane-Steele.
In more than 100 years of practice, Steptoe has earned an international reputation for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in structuring business transactions. Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professional staff across offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. For more information, visit www.steptoe.com.