Two district courts[1] have recently stayed cases alleging that sex discrimination under ACA Section 1557 includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and denial of coverage for gender transition, pending the Supreme Court’s decision in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board.[2]  The Supreme Court accepted certiorari in Gloucester in October 2016 to determine the validity of recent Department of Education Title IX guidance regarding gender identity.  Briefing is currently under way.  The district courts stayed the Section 1557 cases, reasoning that the Supreme Court’s decision would likely determine the validity of the Department of Health & Human Services’ Section 1557 regulations on gender identity as well.

ACA Section 1557 and Title IX rules on sex discrimination

Section 1557 (42 U.S.C. § 18116) prohibits entities that receive federal funds for health activities or programs from discriminating on the grounds prohibited by Title IX.  Title IX generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by recipients of federal education assistance.[3]  Title IX, however, permits federal fund recipients to set up “separate living facilities for the different sexes.”[4]  DOE and HHS regulations for Title IX, originally issued by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, define sex in binary terms – “one sex” versus “the other sex”  —  and permit recipients to set up comparable but separate housing and “toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex.”[5]

The federal agency shift on sex discrimination:  from biological sex to gender identity

In the years prior to the enactment of the ACA, courts reached opposite conclusions as to whether Title IX and comparable sex discrimination laws, such as Title VII, prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.[6]  With the enactment of the ACA and Section 1557, suits began to be brought against health plans and providers which claimed that refusal to treat or cover services for transgender persons based on their gender identity constituted sex discrimination.  In one early Section 1557 decision from 2015, Rumble v. Fairview Health Services, a district court held that Section 1557 does provide a cause of action for discrimination based on gender identity.[7]
Continue Reading Waiting for the Supremes: High Court’s Decision in Gloucester County to Determine Validity of ACA Section 1557 Gender Identity and Transgender Services Rules

The Congressional Research Service published a report detailing more than a dozen pending ACA-related rulemakings. The report comes on the heels of the Spring 2014 Unified Agenda and identifies 14 proposed rules and 17 final rules regarding the ACA that are expected during the next twelve months. Notable expected proposed rules include:

  • CY 2016 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (CMS-9933-P) (0938-ASI9)—Expected in November 2014, this rule would provide the CY 2016 payment parameters for Exchanges, including cost-sharing reductions, advance premium tax credits, reinsurance, and risk adjustment.
  • Application of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to Medicaid Programs (CMS-2333-P) (0938-AS24)—Expected in December 2014, this rule would specify how MHPAEA would apply to Medicaid (including managed care), CHIP, and other benefit programs.
  • Nondiscrimination Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (0945-AA02)—Expected in August 2014, this rule would implement the ACA Section 1557’s prohibitions against discrimination in health programs and activities by covered entities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability.
  • State Option to Provide Health Homes for Enrollees With Chronic Conditions (CMS-2331-P) (0938-AQ48)—Expected in October 2014, this proposed rule would provide guidance for development of a Medicaid State Plan option to provide health homes for enrollees with chronic conditions.


Continue Reading ACA Regulatory Preview: CRS Teases Upcoming ACA Rulemakings