U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block issued a temporary injunction Monday, Aug. 17, delaying the implementation of new rules written by the Trump administration that would eliminate protections for LGBTQ people in health care.
The injunction took effect one day before the new regulations concerning the Affordable Care Act were due to take effect.
The lawsuit, Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, will now proceed to determine whether the Trump administration’s proposed regulations are constitutional.
Block, a Clinton appointee, said the proposed new HHS regulations are “contrary” to a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in June. In that decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, the high court ruled that a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on sex also covers sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling was a landmark ruling for LGBTQ people. Though the ruling covered Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covering employment, many legal observers speculated that lower courts would apply that same reasoning to other federal laws, including those in housing, public accommodations and health care.
In granting the injunction, Block said it appears HHS acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in developing the rule change. HHS’s proposed rule change would have repealed regulations developed under the Obama administration. The Obama regulations, enacted in 2016, said the sex discrimination prohibited in the Affordable Care Act included discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Other federal lawsuits challenging the Trump HHS rules are also pending. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., indicated he was not likely to grant an injunction to stop a Trump administration change by Aug. 18.
Last year, federal district court judges in Manhattan and Seattle struck down an HHS “Denial of Care” rule change that would have allowed health care providers receiving federal funds to cite “religious or moral objections” in order to deny services to certain patients.