Nov 11 (Reuters) – A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that President Joe Biden’s administration misinterpreted an Obamacare provision that prohibited health care providers from discriminating against gay and transgender people.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo ruled that a landmark 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled that a law banning discrimination in the workplace protects gay and transgender employees does not apply to the health care law.
The ruling by Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, came in a class-action lawsuit by two doctors represented by the America First Legal Foundation, drafted by former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller.
They sued after the US Department of Health and Human Services said in May 2021 it would interpret Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health care providers from discriminating on the basis of sex, as extending to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Kacsmaryk said Congress, when it passed the law known as Obamacare in 2010, during the tenure of former Democratic President Barack Obama, could have included “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in the text, but “chose not to do it. “
Instead, the law incorporated the ban on discrimination “on the basis of sex” in Title IX, a 50-year-old federal civil rights law that prohibits such discrimination in education programs.
Kacsmaryk said the logic of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conclusion that Title VII’s anti-sex discrimination bar covers gay and transgender workers did not lead to the same result under Title IX’s text.
“Title IX’s ordinary public meaning remains intact until changed by Congress, or perhaps the Supreme Court,” Kacsmaryk wrote.
HHS and the plaintiffs’ attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Obama administration introduced rules in 2016 that made clear that LGBT people would be protected under the health care discrimination provision.
But that protection was reversed by a Trump-era rule finalized in 2020. In June, the Biden administration proposed a rule to entrench such protections again.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
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