Patient Groups Urge U.S. Court of Appeals to Prevent Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ Patients

April 3, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 3, 2023 — More than a dozen patient groups representing millions of Americans with serious and chronic health conditions are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to preserve protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) patients receiving health care services in the case of Neese vs. Becerra.

The groups filed an amicus brief in which they make clear that LGBTQ+ patients already face significant health disparities and allowing a lower court ruling to stand that would limit protections for LBGTQ+ individuals against discrimination would widen these gaps and lead to worse health outcomes.

In November 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that section 1557 under the ACA does not prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but rather only protects individuals on the basis of the sex they were assigned to at birth. If allowed to stand, the sweeping decision would greatly reduce the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in the delivery of health care services. 

Following is the groups’ joint statement:

“As organizations that represent millions of people with serious and chronic health conditions, we strongly urge the court to strike down the U.S. District Court ruling that would limit anti-discrimination protections against LGBTQ+ individuals as intended under the ACA.

“No one should be disadvantaged in their efforts to access health care quickly and without fear of discrimination. LGBTQ+ people already face significant health disparities due to barriers to care, including discrimination. This ruling—if upheld—would worsen these challenges and lead to negative health outcomes. People with chronic illness such as HIV and cancer are more likely to have hospitalizations, ER visits, ambulatory surgeries, and provider visits. If they encounter discrimination or mistreatment while seeking care, which has been reported extensively by the LGBTQ+ community, they are more likely to avoid or delay necessary health care and endure poorer long-term outcomes.

“Every person regardless of their race, color, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability should be given equal access to timely, quality, comprehensive health care without discrimination. We urge the Court of Appeals to reject the lower court decision and protect patients as intended by the health care law.”



The groups on the brief include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Cancer Support Community, CancerCare, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law , National LGBT Cancer Network, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Patient Advocate Foundation, National Organization for Rare Disorders, The AIDS Institute, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.  

Media Contacts

Trista Hargrove
Director, Media Advocacy - Health Equity