By Kenneth Artz
Eight states are asking a court to strike an Obamacare rule they say violates their authority to protect the judgment and conscience rights of medical professionals.
At issue is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) rule that interprets sex discrimination as a “state of mind, not a biological fact” and applies that definition to Obamacare, according to a statement released by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the legal fight.
The rule could force doctors, health care workers, and state employers providing health insurance to perform or pay for sex change surgeries and abortions with taxpayer funds even if they object because of their religious beliefs or best medical judgment.
In August 2016, the states asked U.S. District Court to strike down the requirement. The following year, the court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against enforcement of the rule. The states pointed out failure to comply could cost them billions of dollars in federal health care funding. Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin are requesting a summary judgement to strike the rule from the federal code.
Separation of Powers Argument
The case hinges on an Obama administration interpretation of the provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sex or gender. The administration tried to broaden the definition of sex or gender to include an individual’s state of mind, not simply their biology, says Dr. Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.
“Obama officials knew full-well this was never the intent of the civil rights law, and they also knew Congress was unlikely to make the change,” Matthews said. “So they decided to make law.”
After the Obama administration tried to force the new definition on schools, employers, and health care officials, President Donald Trump has moved to reverse those policies.
“The Trump administration has appropriately pushed back on their effort, as have the states,” said Matthews. “These states have taken a very important step in rolling back the Obama administration's effort to create law rather than apply and enforce it. It's up to Congress, not bureaucrats, to make laws. Paxton and the states are trying to reaffirm this constitutional principle.”
Kenneth Artz (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Dallas, Texas.