Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Minnesota Federal Court is the First to Address Discrimination Claims Brought Under the Affordable Care Act

March 2015
By: James B. Sherman, Esq.

In what is believed to be the first case to allege discrimination under the often overlooked civil rights provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a federal district court judge in Minnesota recently denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit filed against two Minneapolis area health care organizations.  The lawsuit accused the defendants of sex discrimination by rendering substandard health care to the plaintiff based on his status as a transgender man.  Judge Susan Nelson noted that this was a case of first impression under the relevant antidiscrimination provisions of the ACA, also known as Obama Care.  The ruling allows the case to proceed with further discovery on the ACA claims as well as related claims brought under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

With all the attention given to participation and coverage issues under the sweeping new provisions of the ACA, its civil rights provisions have gone largely unnoticed by the public.  The ACA prohibits health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance from taking the following actions on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability: (1) exclusion from participation in such programs or activities; (2) denial of benefits; or (3) discrimination.  This first known case brought under these provisions of Obama Care will be closely watched, since it may prove to be just the start of an explosion in the number of lawsuits alleging discrimination in the provision of healthcare in America.  

Questions about discrimination, the ACA or any related matters? Please contact James B. Sherman at (952) 746-1700 or

For a copy of this landmark decision, email Christine Beggan at or call (952) 746-1700.