Update on Whitman-Walker Lawsuit Against the United States Department of Health and Human Services

Today we share some good news in regard to Whitman-Walker’s litigation against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

As we wrote to you on May 28th, Whitman-Walker, together with Sarah Henn, our Chief Health Officer, and Randy Pumphrey, our Senior Director of Behavioral Health, filed a lawsuit against HHS in the United States District Court in Northern California asking the Court to strike down the Denial of Care Rule as unconstitutional, inconsistent with federal nondiscrimination laws, and enacted in violation of basic principles of federal administrative law. In addition to the lawsuit that Whitman-Walker has joined, lawsuits have been filed against the HHS Denial of Care Rule by a number of states, cities and women’s health care providers, in federal courts in California, New York, Maryland and Washington State.

On June 12, Whitman-Walker and our co-plaintiffs filed a motion for the court to issue a “preliminary injunction” to keep the Denial of Care Rule from taking effect. The motion included declarations by our CEO, Chief Health Officer and Senior Director of Behavioral Health documenting the harms that the rule would inflict on the community, our patients, and Whitman-Walker itself, if it took effect. Our co-plaintiffs submitted a number of similar declarations and others who filed lawsuits against the rule, including many states and cities, filed motions for preliminary injunction as well.

The government and all of the parties have now agreed on the following, which has been approved by our court and the other courts where lawsuits are pending:

  • The rule will be delayed until at least November 22, 2019 – four months later than it was originally going to take effect.
  • The plaintiffs, and the government, will file motions for “summary judgment” this summer and fall – arguing that the rule should be struck down as unconstitutional and unlawful, or (in the case of the government) that the rule is lawful.
  • The courts will rule by November 22 on the opposing motions for summary judgment.

This is a significant victory and we believe there will be real impact for the communities that we serve as a result of this. It is important that the rule, and its harmful effects, have been delayed for this portion of time. We believe that when the courts consider all the arguments and evidence this fall, they will conclude that the rule violates the Constitution and federal laws. The next several months will be very busy, as we work with our lawyers to make the best case that the rule should never take effect and needs to be struck down.

Thank you for your continued support of our work and for the patients and clients that we work with and for every day.

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