WAWH Submits Comments Related to Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) submits these comments in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (“HHS”, “Department”) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“proposed rule,” “NPRM”) to express our concerns with the proposed rule entitled “Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities,” published in the Federal Register on July 14, 2019.
WAWH is a Wisconsin-based non-profit that advocates on behalf of women and girls. Our vision is for every Wisconsin woman - at every age and every stage of life – to be able to reach her optimal health, safety and economic security. We are deeply concerned with the proposed rule that seeks to remove nondiscrimination protections that would have a direct effect on women and girls.
Section 1557 is the law; however, this proposed rule attempts to change the administrative
implementation in ways that are contrary to the plain language and intent of the law to protect against discrimination. The NPRM’s proposed changes could impose wide ranging harm, particularly falling hardest upon underserved populations, who already struggle to access health care.
We recognize that this proposed rule is just another way for the Trump-Pence Administration to reduce access for people seeking reproductive health care, including abortion, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, including immigrants, those living with disabilities, and people of color. People across our country need access to healthcare, and cruelly putting up hurdles and intentionally allowing room for increased discrimination takes healthcare in the wrong direction. The proposed rule is dangerous and contravenes the plain language of Section 1557, specifically, and the ACA broadly.
The ACA’s clear intent and its overriding purpose is to reduce and ultimately eliminate discrimination in health care. This proposed rule should not be used to narrow the scope of Section 1557 to allow for more discrimination. Such a change is illegal and morally abhorrent.
For the reasons detailed above, HHS and CMS should not finalize the proposed rule and should instead redirect their efforts to advancing health care access and equity for all.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
Sara Finger, Executive Director/Founder
Cecely Castillo, Policy Director