Health Care

Washington v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

In Washington v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the District Court for the Western District of Washington was considering whether a Trump Administration rule withdrawing certain nondiscrimination protections in health care from LGBTQ people is unlawful.

Case Summary

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in health care based on certain characteristics, including an individual’s sex.  In 2016, the Obama Administration finalized a rule interpreting that provision to prohibit most instances of discrimination in health care and insurance against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In June 2020, the Trump Administration published a new rule withdrawing those protections for LGBTQ individuals.  The Trump Administration’s rule is set to go into effect in August 2020.  Washington state filed a complaint alleging, among other things, that the Administration’s rule flouts the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which explained that a prohibition on sex-based discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

CAC and the House General Counsel’s Office filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of Plaintiff.  The brief argued that the Trump Administration’s rule violated the text of the Affordable Care Act and undermines Congress’s plan in passing it.  First, the brief explained that the Affordable Care Act was a response to critical failures in the American healthcare system that consistently left vulnerable Americans without access to quality, affordable insurance and care.  The Act’s many benefits and protections have been remarkably successful in expanding access to health care and eliminating such discrimination.

Second, the brief explained that the Trump Administration’s decision to remove certain nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals violated the text of the Affordable Care Act.  Specifically, Section 1557 of the Act prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of sex, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County made clear that a prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex encompasses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Finally, the brief argued that the Administration’s rule undermined Congress’s plan in passing the Act.  Protecting LGBTQ people from health care discrimination is a critical part of expanding affordable, quality health care in the United States, and the Trump Administration’s attempt to undo those protections undermined Congress’s plan to eliminate discrimination in health care.

In September 2020 the State of Washington voluntarily dismissed the case.

Case Timeline

  • August 3, 2020

    CAC and House General Counsel’s Office file amicus curiae brief on behalf of US House of Representatives in the District Court for the Western District of Washington

    W.D. Wash. Amicus Br.
  • September 8, 2020

    The State of Washington voluntarily dismisses the case

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