Health Care

Whitman-Walker Clinic v. US Department of Health and Human Services

In Whitman-Walker v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the District Court for the District of Columbia is 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.  Plaintiffs, a coalition of healthcare providers and LGBTQ rights organizations, filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia, and are seeking a preliminary injunction or stay of the rule pending review.

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 Plaintiffs.  The brief argues that the Trump Administration’s rule violates the text of the Affordable Care Act and undermines Congress’s plan in passing it.  First, the brief explains 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 explains that the Trump Administration’s decision to remove certain nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals violates 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 recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County makes 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 argues that the Administration’s rule undermines 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 flies in the face of Congress’s plan to eliminate discrimination in health care.

Case Timeline

  • July 15, 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 District of Columbia

    D.D.C. Amicus Br.

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