SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit opposing the Trump Administration’s “Healthcare Refusal Rule.” The new rule allows any individual, entity, or provider—from doctors to front office staff—to deny basic healthcare, including emergency care. The rule allows providers to deny care based on religious or moral objections without providing referrals to the patients in need. This jeopardizes crucial federal funding for California’s healthcare, education, and labor programs and threatens access to care for women, LGBTQ individuals, and many other Californians.
“The Trump Administration should be expanding access to care, not opening the door to limitless denials of care for vulnerable patients and communities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This notion of licensing the discriminate refusal of care to patients smacks of a century-old, bigoted mindset. This is 2019 not 1920. California won’t backslide.”
In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra argues that the Trump Administration’s new rule is unlawful and reckless. It contradicts laws that seek to protect patients from discrimination and ensure access to care. The rule mandates compliance by threatening states’ federal funding. This will threaten billions of dollars in federal funding for California’s public healthcare and federally-funded programs that provide crucial services including health, education and labor services. It would also decrease women’s access to contraceptive care, abortion, and other critical care. Additionally, the rule will also authorize discrimination and curb access to healthcare for transgender and LGBTQ Californians.
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.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.