LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose proposed changes to the discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act, more often called Obamacare.
Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended sending a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting that the proposed rule be withdrawn and also formally submitting public comment in opposition.
“This administration’s proposal would enable health insurers and health care workers to discriminate against vulnerable populations based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and disease status,” which would lead directly to “reduced access to much-needed health care services and worsened health care outcomes,” Solis said.
The proposed rule change would roll back protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or termination of a pregnancy, among other changes.
A Texas judge issued an injunction in 2016 blocking the Obama-era anti-discrimination rule. The HHS has not enforced the rule and presented its proposed change as an administrative matter of conforming to existing law.
The HHS hopes to create abortion and religious freedom exemptions for health care workers and eliminate provisions that prevent health insurers from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people or those with HIV. The proposed rule would also weaken discrimination protections related to pregnancy.
The county’s Department of Mental Health reports that individuals identifying as transgender have substantially higher rates of mental illness, including depression and suicide.
DMH officials also said the rules would also undercut the department’s ability to expand services for pregnant women and new mothers, noting that rates of perinatal depression in low-income Latina and black women reach as high as 38% in Los Angeles County.
The public comment period for the proposed rule change runs until Aug. 13. For full details on the proposed rule changes or how to submit a formal comment, CLICK HERE.