By Jenna Becker
Assuming that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) withstands its most recent challenge in California v. Texas, the Biden administration should prioritize as a future reform the codification of clearer nondiscrimination standards.
The ACA’s Section 1557, which provides anti-discrimination protections, has been fraught with challenges. Section 1557 incorporates nondiscrimination protections from four separate civil rights statutes. This vague language allows administrations to offer widely differing interpretations of healthcare anti-discrimination protections.
In a 2016 rule, the Obama administration interpreted Section 1557 broadly, including protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as specific language access requirements. Many of these protections were eliminated in a 2020 rule promulgated by the Trump administration.
It’s time to end these fluctuating standards. The Biden administration should work with Congress to add clearer nondiscrimination protections to the ACA.