The AAMC submitted an Oct. 3 comment letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights in response to its proposed rule related to Section 1557 nondiscrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (refer to Washington Highlights, July 29).
The AAMC has long supported efforts to extend civil rights protections for patients under the ACA to advance health equity and minimize disparities in health care (refer to Washington Highlights, Oct. 30, 2015). In its letter, the association supported the HHS’ efforts to reinstate and clarify nondiscrimination protections to align regulations with the ACA and reflect civil rights case law. “We agree that the proposed changes are vital to achieve broader goals of eliminating discrimination in health care that contributes to inequities in health status and outcomes for communities of color, individuals with disabilities, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, and older adults and children,” the letter stated.
The AAMC expressed appreciation for the department’s proposals to clarify that prohibitions on discrimination “on the basis of sex” include sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. “We believe this is a critical step to affirm health care access for pregnant people and LGBTQI+ people,” the letter stated. The letter referenced the AAMC Center for Health Justice’s polling to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ birthing people, finding that such LGBTQ+ individuals were more likely to experience complications following childbirth in addition to feeling that their care was affected by experiences of bias or discrimination.
The HHS will review comments in preparation of a final rule.