Judge blocks HHS from rolling back nondiscrimination rules: 5 things to know

A federal judge Aug. 17 blocked HHS from rolling back protections for transgender patients under the ACA.

Five things to know:

1. HHS issued a final rule June 12 that revises nondiscrimination protections laid out in Section 1557 of the ACA. The section of the law established that it is illegal for healthcare organizations to discriminate on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.” HHS’ new rule removed provisions in the 2016 rule that defined sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

2. HHS finalized the regulation just three days before the Supreme Court ruled that federal nondiscrimination protections “because of sex” include transgender employees. 

3. The new rule revising nondiscrimination protections was set to take effect Aug. 18. However, U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block’s preliminary injunction stops it from becoming operative. 

4. In the ruling Aug. 17, Mr. Block said HHS’ new rules contradicted the Supreme Court ruling on sex discrimination and that HHS acted “arbitrarily and capriciously in enacting them.”

5. “When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” Mr. Block wrote. “Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it.”

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