Washington, D.C – On September 2, Federal District Court Judge James Boasberg granted Lambda Legal’s request for a preliminary injunction in a challenge to Trump administration rules announced earlier this summer that would remove anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ from the Affordable Care Act. Boasberg’s ruling on the injunction puts “an immediate stop to key aspects of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ health care discrimination rule which seeks to carve out LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations from regulatory protections under the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision known as Section 1557,” according to a press release from Lambda Legal. “The court enjoined the rule’s elimination of the definition of discrimination on the basis of sex and the rule’s incorporation of Title IX’s religious exemption. The court also held that the broad coalition of plaintiffs Lambda Legal represents has standing to challenge most aspects of the rule.

            “Today’s order immediately blocks HHS from implementing two key parts of the health care discrimination rule that invited discrimination against LGBTQ people and providers to elevate their own religious beliefs above the needs of patients,” the press release noted. Boasberg ruled that denying the injunction “would impede the public interest by threatening the health of LGBTQ individuals at large, some of whom will likely develop increasingly acute conditions on account of their delaying necessary care or refraining from transparent communication with providers out of fear of discrimination.”

            Arianna Inurritegui-Lint, founder of Arianna’s Center and a member organization of the TransLatin@ Coalition, praised the injunction, saying, “Today, I breathe a sigh of relief that the judge heard us and stopped dangerous aspects of this rule from going into effect,” Inurritegui-Lint. And Naseema Shadi, CEO of Whitman-Walker Health, said, “[t]hese protections are particularly vital as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit, Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, is filed on behalf of Whitman-Walker Health, the TransLatin@ Coalition and its members (including leaders of affiliated organizations like Arianna’s Center in Florida), On July 9, Lambda Legal and Steptoe & Johnson LLP filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to block implementation of the health care discrimination rule. The filing was supported by declarations from plaintiffs detailing the irreversible damage the rule would cause for LGBTQ patients. The United States House of Representatives, as well as AARP and the AARP Foundation and SAGE filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Lambda Legal’s request, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments on Aug. 3. The ruling follows the injunction granted by a federal trial court in New York on Aug. 17 in a separate case, Walker v. Azar. (Dallas Voice – Tammye Nash at https://dallasvoice.com/lambda-legal-wins-injunction-halting-discriminatory-healthcare-rule/)

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