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California Pan-Ethnic Health Network Denounces Federal Efforts to Weaken Health Care Access; California Law Continues to Protect Against Discrimination

June 12, 2020. Today the Trump Administration released a final rule that rolls back federal enforcement of non-discrimination protections for individuals accessing health care, as a result of race, color, sex, age and disability status under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.  

“CPEHN rejects the Trump Administration’s latest attack on LGBTQ+ people, women and Limited English Proficient (LEP) people, people of color, and people with disabilities,” said Kiran Savage-Sangwan, CPEHN’s Executive Director. “We are fortunate to have strong language access and anti-discrimination protections here in California. But the release of this federal rule, in the midst of a global pandemic in which disparities are well-documented, will lead to unnecessary confusion and delay for the millions of Californians who need access to critical health care services now,” she added. 

The revised federal rule makes it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender people and women seeking the full range of reproductive services and weakens federal notification requirements for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals by no longer requiring plans and providers to provide notices and information in one’s native language, now instead allowing providers to take “reasonable steps” to do so. 

Under California law, every person is entitled to equal access to services—including medical clinics and hospitals—without regard for the person’s sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status. And this rule does nothing to change that,” Savage-Sangwan explained.1 A law authored by Senate Pro Tem Atkins, sponsored by CPEHN and signed in 2017, requires health plans to notify their members in the top 15 languages spoken by Californians, of the state’s stronger anti-discrimination protections and the availability of free language assistance services, including translation, oral interpretation, auxiliary aids and services. “We urge any Californian who believes they have experienced discrimination in any form to contact their health plan right away.” 

CPEHN stands with our state and national partners in rejecting this latest effort to weaken critical health care protections. We will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, people who have had or will need abortion care and other reproductive health services, people whose first language is not English, immigrants, people of color and people with disabilities to access critical health care services in California and across the nation. 

1California Civil Code section 51 et seq.

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The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) is a multicultural statewide health advocacy organization that aims at uniting communities of color and advancing racial and health equity in California. Many of our partners work directly with constituents across California and play a crucial role in bridging the gaps between community needs and institutional responses. For more information, please contact Monika Lee, (858) 353-7271.