Attorney General Becerra Further Moves to Invalidate Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional and Illegal Healthcare Refusal Rule

Thursday, September 12, 2019
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The rule would allow healthcare providers to deny basic healthcare to women, LGBTQ individuals

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a motion for summary judgment to continue the fight against the Trump Administration’s “Healthcare Refusal Rule” and stop this unconstitutional and illegal rule from going into effect. The Refusal Rule would allow any individual, entity, or provider—from doctors to front office staff—to deny healthcare, including emergency care and reproductive care, based on any religious or moral objections. In the filing, Attorney General Becerra asserts that the Rule violates the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act and the Affordable Care Act. On July 1, 2019, Attorney General Becerra successfully obtained a preliminary injunction which prevented the Rule from taking effect until November 22, 2019. Today’s filing furthers his actions to stop this harmful, discriminatory rule. 

“Our courts have the thankless task of checking the Trump Administration’s lawless and reckless behavior. The Healthcare Refusal Rule would license discrimination against women, LGTBQ individuals, and other vulnerable populations,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This is 2019, not 1920. Every Californian has a right to seek medical care regardless of who they are or whom they love. We will defend that right every step of the way.”

Under the Healthcare Refusal Rule, the Trump Administration vastly and illegally expands conscience protections and coerces state compliance by threatening federal funding. For California, nearly half a trillion dollars of federal funding is at stake. 

In today’s filing, Attorney General Becerra asserts that the Rule is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Spending Clause, the Establishment Clause, the Free Speech Clause, the Due Process Clause, Separation of Powers and Equal Protection. Attorney General Becerra further argues that the Rule will threaten federal funding for California’s 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;
  • $10.8 billion for child welfare and refugee assistance programs and in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities;
  • $8.3 billion for educational programs, including child care and state preschool programs, migrant education, adult education, education for homeless children, special education, and vocational education; 
  • $4.2 million for mental health services; and
  • $89 million to support healthcare for the inmate population.

Today’s filing is the latest step in Attorney General Becerra’s continued fight to protect Californians’ healthcare rights. In 2018, Attorney General Becerra submitted a comment letter to HHS opposing the Rule, and arguing that it would harm California’s residents, healthcare providers, licensees, and consumer protection laws. On February 15, 2019, the California Attorney General’s Office met with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget to discuss the Rule’s harms and its negative impact on California. On May 21, 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit, arguing that the Rule is unlawful and contradicts laws that establish protections for patients against discrimination. On June 4, 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed for a preliminary injunction seeking to block the Healthcare Refusal Rule from taking effect as litigation continues. The injunction was granted on July 1, 2019.

Attorney General Becerra filed today’s motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alongside Santa Clara County, the City and County of San Francisco, Trust Women Seattle, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Whitman-Walker Clinic, Inc., Bradbury Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Center on Halsted, Hartford Gyn Center, Mazzoni Center, Medical Students For Choice, The Association of LGBT+ Psychiatrists, American Association of Physicians For Human Rights: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, and individual plaintiffs.

A copy of the motion can be found here.

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