Hogan Lovells files lawsuit along with civil rights organizations and Harvard CHLPI challenging rule removing ACA’s non-discrimination protections

Boston, 9 July 2020 — Today Hogan Lovells, with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the Administration’s June 19, 2020 rule undermining the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA's) non-discrimination protections, which prohibit discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex — including pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Darren Lazor, the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and the Transgender Emergency Fund. Lazor, 35, is a transgender man who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious. Notably, it was published just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law.

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for Black and Latinx trans people, and trans people living in rural regions and the South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Administration is putting trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

"I have experienced feeling like a doctor doesn't care if I live or die — which is just shameful," said Darren Lazor. "No one should be denied life-saving health care or be discriminated against the way I have simply because of who they are. I hope that sharing my story can help others understand that transgender people are who we are, and we deserve to be treated fairly under the law."

“The rule will embolden discrimination in health care and make it more difficult for patients—particularly transgender people and women—to access the care and insurance coverage they need,” said Kirti Datla, senior associate at Hogan Lovells. “We represent a broad group of plaintiffs whose experiences make clear just how devastating the effects of this action will be. Working alongside partner organizations, we hope to secure a ruling that the rollback is unlawful several times over, and that no person should be denied health care due to discrimination.”

The Hogan Lovells team from the firm’s Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York offices included senior associates Kirti Datla and Jo-Ann Tamila Sagar, and associates Erin Chapman, Kristina Alekseyeva, and Peter Bautz, with help from partners Jessica Ellsworth and Bill Kettlewell, and paralegal Alicia Balthazar.

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