Santa Maria Sun / Community
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Community Notebook 11/19/15 - 11/26/15
MONDAY, NOV. 23
• The South County Advisory Council has its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Nipomo Community Services District Headquarters, 148 S. Wilson St., Nipomo.
• The Solvang City Council has its regular meeting at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 1644 Oak Street, Solvang. agendas are available at cityofsolvang.com.
TUESDAY, NOV. 24
• The Guadalupe City Council has its regular meeting at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 918 Obispo St., Guadalupe.
• The Lompoc Unified School District has its board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Education Center Board Room, 1301 N. A St., Lompoc.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 25
• The Nipomo Community Services District has its regular meeting at 9 a.m. in the NCSD Boardroom at 148 S. Wilson St., Nipomo.
• The Lompoc Planning Commission has its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Lompoc City Hall Council Chambers, 100 Civic Center Plaza, Lompoc.
Political Watch 11/19/2015
• Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) submitted a letter along with 104 co-signers to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights urging a strong interpretation and enforcement of a proposed rule to protect LGBT individuals from health care discrimination. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led 20 senators in sending a similar letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
In September, HHS announced a much awaited proposed rule implementing one of the most significant provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Section 1557. Section 1557 is the civil rights provision of the ACA that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The Capps-led letter highlights that this section, in conjunction with the proposed rule, would provide groundbreaking non-discrimination protections that promote equal access to our health care system, particularly for LGBT communities.
Capps and her fellow co-signers also highlight areas in which the proposed rule should be strengthened. Specifically, the proposed rule currently fails to include “sexual orientation” within the definition of sex under Section 1557. This omission may allow continued discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans. For example, a lesbian couple seeking to start a family may find that their health insurance plan can deny them coverage for infertility services based on requirements that both the eggs and the sperm be naturally produced by the couple themselves. The Capps letter urges the agency to fix this oversight.
In addition, HHS has left the door open for comments on religious exemptions or accommodations within the non-discrimination provision. The letter strongly cautions against the inclusion of such exemptions, as it would severely undermine the primary goal of the ACA to provide access to high-quality health care free from discrimination. Inclusion of a religious exemption would explicitly sanction health care discrimination against members of the LGBT community, putting the health and well-being of these patients at risk.
“I am very pleased with the progress being made to protect members of the LGBT community from health care discrimination,” Capps said in a press release. “However, we still have a long way to go to ensure that every American has equal access to health care and coverage, which is why I am proud to join my House and Senate colleagues to urge the adoption of the strongest possible interpretation of the HHS non-discrimination rule.”
In the press release, Baldwin stated, “The Affordable Care Act has made access to quality, affordable health care a reality for millions of Americans, including LGBT people. However, significant barriers to obtaining that care continue to exist for too many people. Congress enacted Section 1557 to address discrimination that would deny the promise of the ACA. I join my colleagues in calling on HHS to ensure the strongest possible implementation of this critical provision.”
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