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Members of Congress, Medical Associations, Policy Experts, Nonprofits, States, Counties, and Cities Support Fight Against Healthcare Refusal Rule

Multiple amicus briefs were filed in support of Attorney General Becerra’s challenge of the Trump Administration’s “Healthcare Refusal Rule” 

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that a diverse group that includes members of Congress, state attorneys general, healthcare providers, healthcare policy experts, and more filed amicus briefs this week in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting California’s fight against the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional and illegal “Healthcare Refusal Rule.” The rule, which was halted by multiple courts, would allow anyone involved in healthcare to deny care to an individual for religious, moral, ethical, or other reasons. This exemption would open the door to unfettered discrimination, particularly against women, LGBTQ individuals, people of color, and individuals in rural and low-income communities.

“A diverse coalition consisting of individual citizens, elected leaders, experts, advocacy groups and others have helped shed light on the substantial negative impact of the Trump Administration’s Healthcare Refusal Rule on our healthcare system,” said Attorney General Becerra. “As we continue to battle a global pandemic, now is the time to ensure access to quality care, not create barriers to care.”

In a brief filed this month, the Attorney General reasserted that the Trump Administration’s Healthcare Refusal Rule violates the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing that the District Court was correct to vacate the rule in its entirety. The amici support California’s fight to protect marginalized communities from potential healthcare discrimination resulting from the rule. The amicus briefs highlight the human cost of allowing this rule to stand.

  • Rachael Lorenzo, Mindy Swank, and Meghan Eagen, three individuals who were denied essential, stabilizing treatment because medical professionals refused to provide emergency abortions: Mindy’s story: “Even though Saint Francis and Genesis knew that Mindy’s pregnancy was not viable and would ultimately put her life in danger if not terminated, doctors delayed the emergency care she needed. Not only did this risk the loss of Mindy’s ability to have children in the future and lead to the prolonged suffering of her baby after birth [who struggled to breathe for three hours after being born unconscious before dying], but it also put her life in jeopardy and resulted in lasting emotional trauma.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • Coalition of 158 Members of the U.S. Congress: “Congress has consistently sought to protect and expand access to medical care in the United States, including by passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and in other statutes and legislation enacted over the last fifty years. HHS’s Rule is one in a series of more recent attempts to turn back this progress and limit access to care, especially abortion care.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • Coalition of 21 states and the District of Columbia: “That unprecedented redefinition poses severe disruptions to Amici States’ health care systems and our ability to deliver seamless patient care while accommodating conscience objections, and is thus particularly harmful to Amici States’ interests as health care providers, employers, and regulators.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • Coalition of cities and counties: “The Final Rule invites providers of emergency care to discriminate against the distressed patients they are duty-bound to treat, and attempts to undermine local governments’ antidiscrimination policies and laws in the provision of healthcare with the threat of withdrawal of critical federal funding.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • American Public Health Association: “By permitting any individual who works at a healthcare facility to elevate their personal beliefs above the health needs of the patient, the Rule disregards the most core principles of public health.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • Coalition of leading medical organizations: “The Rule endangers patients in emergency situations…For example, when a registered nurse anesthetist lodges a last-minute objection to assisting a patient with an urgent need, and s/he cannot be replaced because all colleagues are in COVID-19 ICUs, the patient may die. The COVID-19 crisis thus heightens the dangers the Rule threatens to the provision of necessary and urgent care.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights and a coalition of 27 nonprofit organizations: “The Final Rule will compound barriers to health care for LGBTQ people, particularly those who are transgender, by inviting health care workers to refuse services or referrals to LGBTQ people.”  A copy of the brief is available here.
  • The Williams Instituteand a coalition of experts on the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: “Being denied healthcare can be devastating. Being denied care for discriminatory reasons compounds that harm and can result in avoidance of necessary care in the future. In turn, the minority stress associated with healthcare denials contributes to health disparities for the LGBT population.” A copy of the brief is available here.
  • Institute for Policy Integrity: “It is difficult to imagine how a rule could cause more workers to assert a right to deny care without also causing an increase in denials of care. HHS cannot have it both ways.”  A copy of the brief is available here.
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