Federal Judge Orders States Can Challenge HHS Anti-Racism Rule

United States District Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden ruled yesterday that eight states can continue a civil rights lawsuit against Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-Lasure. The case challenges a Biden-era rule that enables higher compensation for doctors who adopt an “anti-racism” plan. The order indicates the plaintiffs have “plausibly alleged” that the anti-racism rule is illegal because it’s not authorized by the Medicare statute. 

Background: In May 2022, with the support of Do No Harm, Dr. Amber Colville and the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Montana sued the Biden administration. They argued that a HHS rule violates the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) by encouraging doctors to consider race when making important medical decisions.  

As detailed in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs believe that racial discrimination of any kind has no place in medicine. They oppose the concepts of “anti-racism” and “equity” because they inject race-based decision making into our health care system without any medical justification.

In response to the filing, the government moved to dismiss the case based on procedural technicalities and questioned whether or not the plaintiffs had legal standing to file the suit in the first place. 

In yesterday’s Order, Judge Ozerden denied the government’s request to dismiss the case. Instead, he determined that while Dr. Colville does not have legal standing to sue at this time, the eight states have standing “due to injury to their sovereign interest in the enforcement of their laws.”

The states will move forward, and in a solid sign for the future, the Court explained that the challengers have “plausibly alleged” that the anti-racism is illegal because it’s not authorized by the Medicare statute.

“We are encouraged by Judge Ozerden’s order that the case can continue and our concerns have merit,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of Do No Harm. “Discrimination has no place in the provision of Medicare services nor anywhere else in medical practice.”

The case is being heard in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi Gulfport Division.

About Do No Harm

Do No Harm is a diverse group of physicians, healthcare professionals, medical students, patients, and policymakers united by an ethical mission: Protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology. They believe in making healthcare better for all – not undermining it in pursuit of a political agenda. Learn more at www.donoharmmedicine.org.

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