Senators Cantwell, Murray Introduce New Legislation to Block Trump Administration Rule Permitting Widespread Discrimination in Health Care

New bill will block harmful rule from President Trump allowing health practitioners to withhold health care based on their own personal beliefs, regardless of the needs of the patient

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, introduced the Put Patients First Act following the Southern District of New York’s ruling against the Trump administration’s attempt to refuse to provide lifesaving care on religious or “conscience” bases.

The Put Patients First Act would permanently block the Trump administration’s rule, which was finalized earlier this year, that permits widespread discrimination in health care by allowing someone else’s personal beliefs to dictate a patient’s health care. This rule allows virtually any individual or entity involved in a patient’s care—from a hospital’s board of directors to a receptionist that schedules procedures—to withhold care based on personal beliefs.

Senator Cantwell has repeatedly opposed the administration’s efforts to sabotage critical health care. In August, she and Senator Murray joined colleagues in objecting to new rules that weaken critical protections that help address discrimination in health care. A vocal critic of the Trump administration’s persistent efforts to sabotage health care for millions of patients and a longtime defender of patient health care protections, Senator Murray previously wrote to the Health Department Secretary Alex Azar in August 2019 seeking additional information about the Department’s decision to adopt the refusal of care rule, highlighting that the rule would undermine the health and well-being of women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other vulnerable communities by “entrenching and sanctioning discrimination in the health care system.” Senators Cantwell and Murray have also repeatedly called on the administration to protect health care for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. 

The legislation has been endorsed by the ACLU, Center for American Progress, Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, Human Rights Campaign, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Lambda Legal, The LGBTQ Task Force, NARAL, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Abortion Federation, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Women’s Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.