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Rule would harm Californians by allowing healthcare providers to deny basic healthcare to women, LGBTQ individuals

June 5, 2019 - SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday filed a motion for preliminary injunction to block the Trump Administration’s “Healthcare xavier becerra california attorney generalRefusal Rule” from taking effect while litigation continues. The new rule allows any individual, entity, or provider—from doctors to front office staff—to deny basic healthcare, including emergency care, based on religious or moral objections. 

“Today we are going to bat for women, the LGBTQ community, and every Californian – because they all have a right to healthcare. No one should fear being denied healthcare based on their gender, health condition, or who they love,” said Attorney General Becerra. “As long as President Trump continues his war on Americans’ healthcare, California will fight back. We refuse to go back to the days when healthcare was only for a select few. California will keep working to strengthen and improve healthcare rights for all.” 

“The Trump Administration’s new rule opens the door to discrimination against the LGBTQ community, women, people of color and those living in rural communities where there are fewer medical providers and facilities,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, California’s first openly gay statewide elected leader. “Allowing medical providers and facilities, insurers, employers, and others to exercise prejudice against patients is not only deeply offensive, but dangerous to their health. When it comes to protecting the civil rights of all Californians, we will go all out in fighting this battle.”

In today’s motion, the State of California is seeking a preliminary injunction to block the Healthcare Refusal Rule from going into effect on July 22, 2019. In the filing, Attorney General Becerra argues that the rule will harm California by risking the health of Californians throughout the state and threatening funding for crucial health, education, and other services including: Medicaid; the Children’s Health Insurance Program; the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which helps working families obtain childcare; the 21st Century Cures Act, which helps fund state response to the opioid crisis; the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program; the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program, which provides assistance to families, the elderly, and people with disabilities experiencing homelessness; and many others. It also threatens access to healthcare for women, LGBTQ individuals, and many other Californians. Today’s filing asserts that the rule illegally violates the Administrative Procedure Act, and both the Spending Clause and the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.  

This rule will threaten billions of dollars in federal funding for California’s public healthcare and other federally-funded programs that provide crucial health, education and labor services, including:  

  • $63 billion for healthcare services such as Medi-Cal;
  • $1.5 billion for public health initiatives including emergency preparedness and vaccination programs;
  • $6 billion for in-home supportive services;
  • $2.5 billion for child welfare and refugee assistance;
  • $3.8 billion for educational programs, including child care and state preschool programs, migrant education, adult education, education for homeless children, special education, and vocational education; and
  • $900 million for providing short-term income to unemployed individuals, funding local workforce development boards, and providing services to job seekers and employers.

The rule would also decrease women’s access to contraceptive care, abortion, and other critical care. Additionally, the rule will allow denials of care for LGBTQ Californians. A previous rule issued in 2008 was rescinded after the federal government determined that federal protections for religious conscience were never intended to allow providers to refuse to provide medical care to an individual because the individual engaged in behavior the healthcare provider found objectionable. Further, in 2016, the federal government resolved that withdrawing federal health, labor, and education funding from a state was potentially unconstitutional. 

Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting Californians’ healthcare. On May 21, 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed suit in this particular matter, arguing that the Healthcare Refusal Rule is unlawful and reckless and contradicts laws that seek to protect patients from discrimination and ensure access to care. Last year, Attorney General Becerra submitted a comment letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) arguing that the proposed rule would harm California and its interest in protecting its residents, healthcare providers, licensees, and consumer laws. The letter further argued that the rule exceeds legal authority and undermines the Constitution and federal law, including the Affordable Care Act, Title X, Title VII, and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. Shortly after, on April 25, 2018, Attorney General Becerra submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to HHS seeking information about the Trump Administration’s proposed rule. More than a year later, the federal government has failed to provide a substantive response or documents. 

In addition to the motion for preliminary injunction filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, declarations supporting the preliminary injunction were filed by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, California's Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, and many other California agencies that would be negatively impacted by the illegal rule. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and the County of Santa Clara will each separately file motions for preliminary injunction on behalf of the City of San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara. 

A copy of the motion can be found here.
Source: CA. DOJ

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