Texas judge issues injunction barring anti-discrimination provisions of ACA
A federal judge in Texas issued an order Saturday halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that protects transgender patients from health-care discrimination and ensures entities receiving federal dollars provide comprehensive reproductive health-care services, including abortion care.
In the waning hours of 2016, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor unleashed a freakish ruling that fundamentally alters the balance between medical treatment and religious freedom in the United States.
The mandate, which was passed in May and went into effect for many on January 1, implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex but extends the definition to include gender-identity.
Katie Hill, White House spokeswoman, spoke out against the ruling, saying, "Today's decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans-regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation-should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination".
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The Department of Health and Human Services has ruled Section 1557 of the ACA "includes gender identity discrimination within the definition of sex discrimination" and provides for "specific coverage protections for transgender individuals".
Under the health rule, federal protections against discrimination based on sex extend to gender identity.
It's the second ruling by O'Connor this year that thwarts President Barack Obama's efforts to increase protections for transgender individuals at a time when they are being hotly debated across the country.
Paxton added, "This striking example of federal overreach under Obamacare would force many doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in Texas to participate in sex-reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if it violates their best medical judgment or their religious beliefs".
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The judge also ruled that the new rule "imposes a substantial burden" on private health care providers' religious exercise because it does not include a blanket exemption for religiously affiliated health care organizations.
The injunction came from U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas, in Fort Worth.
"This is another predictable, baseless ruling by a judge who state officials handpicked to deliver a ruling against transgender people", said National Center for Transgender Equality's Executive Director Mara Keisling in a statement.
The plaintiffs also claimed that they could be required to perform gender transition procedures on children, according to Texas Tribune. The rule applies to health care providers, including hospitals and doctors that accept federal dollars and insurance plans offered through the federal marketplace.
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"The order does not change the fact that federal law bans gender-based discrimination", Keisling said.
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