October 25, 2017
Dear Director Severino,
We write to you today as 35 faith-based organizations, serving diverse communities across the United States and dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and worth of every person. We strongly oppose reopening, weakening, or repealing the rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its crucial nondiscrimination protections.
The ACA and its implementing rules have had a monumental, life-saving impact on millions of Americans of all races, religions, ethnicities, abilities, ages, sexual orientations, and gender identities. This particular rule has ensured that many transgender people have equal access to quality health care, where they previously had little or no access to care. This rule also has helped address the pervasive discrimination transgender people often face in health care. Further, we are disappointed to hear that the addition of a religious exemption is among the modifications under consideration. The Department was right when it issued this rule without a religious exemption and we strongly oppose a move to include one now. As faith-based organizations, we uniquely value, support and defend the religious freedom upon which this nation was founded. But a religious exemption to Section 1557 would serve only to dramatically undermine the purpose and impact of the ACA, while using “religious liberty” as a license to discriminate.
The teachings of our respective faiths may diverge on issues of theology and practice, but our traditions all speak of the spark of the Divine in every human being. We learn from this teaching that all people must be treated equally, with dignity and respect. As such, we believe in the critical importance of eliminating disparities in health care and ensuring that all people, including LGBTQ individuals and their families, do not face discriminatory barriers when seeking quality, affordable health coverage and care. Indeed, many of our organizations and members of our communities worked in support of these provisions and submitted comments to the Department in support of this very rule.
We are strongly opposed to reopening, weakening or repealing the rule implementing Section 1557 of the ACA and the crucial protections on which so many of our community members rely. If we can provide any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Arielle Gingold, Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Joanna Ware, Rapid Response Campaign Director of Keshet (email@example.com).
Thank you for your consideration.
Ameinu (Our People)
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Bnai Keshet, Montclair, New Jersey
Boston Workmen's Circle Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice
Chisuk Emuna Congregation, Pennsylvania
Congregation Bet Haverim, Georgia
Detroit Jews for Justice
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland
Faith in Public Life
Habonim Dror North America
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Massachusetts
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties
Jews United for Justice
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice House
National Council of Jewish Women
Off the Mat into the World
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ)
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation
Vision Mapping, Irvine, California
Witness to Mass Incarceration
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)