Victory for Health Advocates, but Language Access Provisions Left Unaddressed

WASHINGTON—On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked part of the Trump administration’s June 2020 rule to undo Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as the Health Care Rights Law, which protects patients from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability, including gender identity and sex stereotyping. This decision blocks the administration’s continued attempts to remove critical civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and those facing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. This ruling and lawsuit, however, did not address the rule’s rollback of language access protections, which disproportionately impact immigrant communities and limited English proficient (LEP) people.

Juliet K. Choi, executive vice president of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, released the following statement:

“We applaud the court for blocking the Trump administration’s direct attack on health care access for LGBTQ+ people. While this is a victory, our work to end discrimination in health care is far from complete. The administration has made it more difficult for those that rely on language access protection to access health care. This impacts over 25 million people in the U.S. who have limited English skills including one-third of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.”

The Trump administration finalized the Section 1557 rule on June 12, 2020, removing key notice requirements informing people with limited English skills of their right to language assistance, such as translated documents and access to an interpreter, when receiving health care information and services. Without those notices, many limited English proficient people do not know about their rights.

Last year, APIAHF worked with partners from across the country to activate over 150,000 people who submitted comments to protect Section 1557. In addition to gathering the thousands of comments during the public comment period, APIAHF collected stories from many Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander families to show the detrimental impact of the Administration’s redesigned rule.

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The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.