WASHINGTON —Juliet K. Choi, executive vice president of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum and former chief of staff and senior advisor at the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s finalization of the Health and Human Services rule that will roll back civil rights protections under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, also referenced as the Health Care Rights Law.
“It is unconscionable to roll back critical civil rights protections on any day, and particularly reckless during a global pandemic as we collectively respond to COVID-19. This is once again part of the Trump administration agenda of dismantling the Affordable Care Act and attacking marginalized communities. The final rule is meant to deny health care, putting millions of individuals in harm’s way. Discrimination has no place in health care.
Section 1557 and its implementing regulations protect patients from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability, including gender identity and sex stereotyping. The final rule rolls back civil rights protections by removing key notice requirements informing people with limited English skills of their right to language assistance to obtain critical health care information. The final rule allows discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, people who have had or will need abortion care and other reproductive health services.
One-third of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are limited English proficient (LEP) and 60 percent of the community are immigrants. Section 1557 protections strengthen language access requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – long-standing protections for minority and immigrant communities. Having strong civil rights protections in health care programs and activities ensures meaningful access for the over 25 million LEP persons when accessing critical health services.
Last year, APIAHF worked with our partners from across the country to collect over 150,000 comments to protect the provisions within the Heath Care Rights Law. In addition to gathering the thousands of comments during the public comment period, APIAHF collected stories from so 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.