Fourteen House Democrats are asking the Obama administration to implement the section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) that bans discrimination in health care.
The provision, PPACA Section 1557, prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of sex, gender identity, race, color, national origin, disability and age by federal health care programs and programs that receive federal funds.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked for stories about real-life health care discrimination in July 2013, but HHS and other federal departments have not yet posted the regulations, or even a draft of the regulations, needed to apply PPACA Section 1557. Even HHS regulations that refer to health care discrimination often simply mention that concern, without referring directly to Section 1557, the lawmakers say.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., drafted a letter asking HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to implement PPACA Section 1557 and persuaded 13 colleagues to sign the letter along with her.
The lawmakers also sent the letter to Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
In the letter, the lawmakers say federal courts have already started acting on their own to interpret Section 1557, without Obama administration input.
Consumers and their advocates should, for example, be able to use Section 1557 to ban use of gender-based premiums in the long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies used by participants in the Long-Term Care Partnership program, which is a joint state-federal Medicaid program, the lawmakers say.
Charging women more than men for LTCI “flies in the face of one of the major purposes of the law,” the lawmakers say.