WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today released a final rule that undermines Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act by drastically weakening current regulations that protect patients from discrimination.
American Heart Association Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, released the following statement condemning the rule:
“This rule represents a major setback for people with pre-existing conditions who need access to health care, especially individuals with cardiovascular disease and other serious chronic conditions who live in under-resourced communities, those with low median household income, inadequate access to supermarkets, and poor access and availability of medical care.
“The American Heart Association has long opposed this rule and any attempts to weaken nondiscrimination policies in health care or to limit access to care. Now more than ever, it is important for us to recognize and reconcile systemic inequalities that are harming people of color in our country, including within our health care system. This action by the administration further divides us by creating barriers to care and potentially exacerbating health inequities.
“Access to health care is especially critical for historically marginalized populations, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people, people with limited English proficiency (LEP), women and people with disabilities. These communities have long faced discrimination, bias, stigma, substandard care and the denial of care. Members of the LGBTQI community disproportionately experience barriers to health care and coverage compared with their heterosexual peers and have a higher prevalence of CVD and risk factors. This rule will only cause greater disparities in these communities.
“A rollback of these protections is particularly concerning in the current climate, as individuals who have faced access barriers may be less likely to seek care and treatment for COVID-19. While data on race, under-resourced communities and the coronavirus is too limited to draw conclusions, disproportionately high rates of sickness — and death — are the reality in too many instances for people of color. Now more than ever we need to be promoting health equity and access to care for all, but this rule does the opposite by eroding health care access and gains in insurance coverage made under the ACA. We strongly oppose the changes in section 1557 and urge immediate action to restore critical patient protections for all Americans."
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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