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Court bars anti-discrimination provisions of health care law

Court bars anti-discrimination provisions of health care law

A Texas judge has issued a national preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s antidiscrimination provisions with respect to those seeking an abortion and transgender individuals.

Judge Reed O’Connor of U.S. District Court in Wichita Falls, Texas, issued the injunction in Franciscan Alliance Inc. et al. v. Sylvia Burwell et al. on Dec. 31, the day before insurance provisions of a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that forbids discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy” were to take effect.

The rule, “Nondiscrimination in Health Programs & Activities,” was issued by the department in May 2016.

Plaintiffs in the case were eight states and three health care providers. “Plaintiffs claim the rule’s interpretation of sex discrimination pressures doctors to deliver healthcare in manner that violates their religious freedom and thwarts their independent medical judgment and will require burdensome changes to their health insurance plans on January 1, 2017,” said Judge O’Connor’s ruling.

In ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor, Judge O’Connor said, “The threatened injury to plaintiffs outweighs any potential harm to defendants. Without an injunction, plaintiffs will be threatened with substantial harm, including the risk of federal funding withdrawal and civil liability,” said the ruling.

“On the other hand, (the Department of Health and Human Services) will suffer no harm from delaying implementation of the challenged portion of the rule,” said Judge O’Connor, in granting the plaintiffs’ motion and enjoining the department from enforcing the rule’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or pregnancy termination.

Republicans in Congress have set the ACA ‘s repeal as a major goal.





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