Florida sues to block HHS bias rule

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Catholic Medical Association sued the Biden administration May 6 over a new rule under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that the administration says advances protections against discrimination in healthcare.

The rule, published by HHS on May 6, clarifies that Section 1557 bans discrimination in healthcare on the basis of sex, including discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes; sex characteristics, including intersex traits; pregnancy or related conditions; sexual orientation; and gender identity.

Ms. Moody and the Catholic Medical Association argue that the new rule goes beyond the limits of Section 1557 and would force Florida, which prohibits hormone treatment and surgery for minors, to violate state law and fund drugs and surgeries for "gender transition" for children.

The Biden administration is "trying to go around our child-protection law to force the state to pay for puberty blockers and gender-transition surgery for children," Ms. Moody said in a news release. "These rules trample states' power to protect their own citizens and we will not stand by as Biden tries, yet again, to use the force of the federal government to unlawfully stifle Florida's effort to protect children."

Ms. Moody filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, which include the state of Florida, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Management Services and the Catholic Medical Association. The plaintiffs are asking the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida in Tampa to block enforcement of the rule they contend is "arbitrary and capricious" and "threaten[s] the livelihood of doctors" who refuse to provide certain care. 

HHS declined Becker's request to comment about the pending litigation. However, the Biden administration argues the rule is crucial in maintaining access to care for LGBTQ+ patients, according to Politico.

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