On June 20, 2024, NWLC and co-counsel Altshuler Berzon LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Law Center and ten other organizations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in C.P. by and through his parents, Pritchard v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. Our brief clarifies the scope of Section 1557’s protections against discrimination in health care: Section 1557 prohibits discrimination in all health programs and activities—including in activities related to employee health benefit plans, regardless of whether the health insurance company underwrites the plan itself or administers it for a self-funded plan sponsor, like an employer.

In this case, Lambda Legal represents C.P., a transgender young man seeking gender affirming health care. However, his parents’ employee health benefits plan contains a categorical exclusion of coverage for any care related to the treatment of gender dysphoria—a provision that plainly discriminates against plan members on the basis of their sex. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, a nonprofit health insurance company that serves as a third-party administrator for the Pritchards’ employer’s health benefit plan, accepts federal funds. Yet BCBS Illinois argues that it should be allowed to administer health plans that contain discriminatory terms.

Our brief explains why the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act apply to health coverage providers, as well as why ERISA does not immunize third-party health insurance administrators from liability. Our brief also highlights the dramatic implications for hundreds of millions of people in the United States of this insurance giant’s dangerous denial of its obligations under Section 1557.

Find the amicus brief here.