Trump Administration Targets Anti-Discrimination Laws Tied to HHS Funding

The Trump administration wants to remove anti-discrimination laws preventing organizations that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from refusing patients or clients based on religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Rolling back these laws could have wide implications for U.S. citizens and refugees. For example, without these protections, a walk-in clinic receiving HHS funding could choose to turn away patients who are Muslim or transgender. HHS grants fund a broad range of services, including medical research, HIV services, refugee assistance, Head Start programs, and child welfare services.

The administration previously has offered waivers to individual organizations, as in January 2019, when South Carolina nonprofit Miracle Hill Ministries was granted a special waiver to continue receiving federal funding despite only working with Protestant clients. Removing the anti-discrimination rules extends this special permission to all groups.

Faith-based organizations that refused to comply with the nondiscrimination rules were being shut out from federal funding, the administration claims, and rolling back the regulations will allow those groups to operate in a way that reflects their religious and moral values. However, NPR noted, there are many religious groups receiving HHS grants that provide services to people of all faiths, sexual orientations, and gender identities.

Source: NPR, November 5, 2019.