(Washington, D.C.) Today, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued final regulations interpreting and implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in health care programs or activities receiving federal funds on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin, age, or disability. Section 1557 is the first federal law that broadly prohibits sex discrimination in health care and therefore provides huge, new protections for women seeking health care in this country.

The following is a statement by Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center:

“We applaud HHS for issuing historic regulations to implement the provision in the Affordable Care Act that, for the first time, bans sex discrimination in health care nationwide and applies to virtually every aspect of the health care system.

“Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer charge women more than men for the same health insurance, deny coverage to women with pre-existing conditions, such as  previously undergoing a Cesarean delivery or having had breast cancer, or exclude maternity coverage altogether. The National Women’s Law Center is using this groundbreaking provision to challenge and halt such discrimination, including  charging women more than men for long-term care insurance policies and excluding pregnancy coverage for dependent children.

“Another key aspect of the prohibition of sex discrimination is the protection it affords to LGBT individuals through its prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity or sex stereotyping, which typically includes discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“We look forward to working with HHS and the Department of Justice to ensure that the new regulations are publicized broadly and fully enforced.”

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