October 05, 2022

Wyden, Merkley Applaud HHS Restoring Nondiscrimination Protections in Health Care, Push to Strengthen Proposal

Washington, D.C. –  U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today applauded the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed rule to prohibit discrimination in health care and urged HHS to strengthen protections for people with disabilities, trans people, and those seeking care for pregnancy and related conditions.

“This proposal is an important step forward to help ensure no one in our country has their health care undermined by discrimination or bigotry, and we urge the Department to further strengthen protections for people with disabilities, trans people, and people seeking to access care for pregnancy, infertility, or related conditions,” Wyden and Merkley wrote to HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra and HHS Office for Civil Rights Director, Melanie Fontes Rainer.

“Recent and ongoing threats to health care access underscore why eliminating discrimination in health care programs and activities remains such an essential goal. The Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Dobbs upended abortion rights and left tens of millions of women without access to critical, lifesaving care and in danger of grave health consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated existing health inequities, particularly in communities of color and for people with disabilities. And the transgender community is facing a barrage of discriminatory attacks that deny patients access to gender-affirming care and create barriers to treatment,” Wyden and Merkley stated. “In the face of such obstacles, it is as important as ever that the Administration work to ensure everyone has the right to get the care they need—and undo the harm caused to patients by the Trump Administration’s rule.”

The letter was led by U.S. Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Wyden. Alongside Merkley, the letter was joined by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Read the full letter here.