Federal Roll-Back of Obama Era Non-Discrimination Rule: What Californians Should Know 

On Friday, June 12th, the Trump administration formalized a rollback of an Obama era regulation that protects patients from discrimination in health care settings. The roll-back of the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is yet another attack on women, LGBTQ+, Limited English Proficient individuals and persons with disabilities, and will only lead to unnecessary confusion and harm.  The revised federal rule makes it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender people and women seeking the full range of reproductive services and weakens federal notification requirements for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals by no longer requiring plans and providers to provide notices and information in one’s native language, now instead allowing providers to take “reasonable steps” to do so.  

Fortunately, California’s non-discrimination laws are strong and have not changed. California independently protects equal access to health care regardless of a patient’s sex, gender identity, or gender expression, including access to transition-related care. It is also against the law for insurance companies to engage in marketing practices or benefit designs that “have the effect of discouraging the enrollment of individuals with significant health needs.” And in 2017, Senator Atkins championed a CPEHN sponsored bill (SB 223), which was signed into law, requiring requires health plans to notify their members in the top 15 languages spoken by Californians, of the state’s stronger anti-discrimination protections and the availability of free language assistance services, including translation, oral interpretation, auxiliary aids and services.  

These provisions are still in full effect, regardless of the federal actions taken by the Trump Administration. Agencies that regulate or provide oversight of health insurance in California have reiterated that California’s nondiscrimination protections are still in effect. You can see below for their letters to insurance companies about protections for LGBTQ+, Limited English Proficient and Californians with disabilities. 

Join us as we discuss the recent federal rollback of the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what it does and does not mean for Californians and their continued right to access equitable health care services in California. We will provide resources and information on how to pursue legal action for those who feel they have been discriminated against. The move comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately harm communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, women and persons with disabilities and at a time when systemic racism and bias is killing and harming these same communities. 


  • Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara 
  • Assemblymember David Chiu, representing the 17th Assembly District 
  • Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director, The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) 
  • Cary Sanders, Senior Policy Director, The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) 
  • Amanda Wallner, Director, CA LGBTQ Health & Human Services Network 
  • Silvia Yee, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) 

Webinar Materials: 

Resources & Additional Information