RELEASE: HHS Budget Would Fund Discrimination at Expense of Civil Rights Enforcement, CAP Analysis Says

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows how the Trump administration is using the budget process to undermine civil rights and promote policies that allow discrimination. These proposals would jeopardize LGBTQ rights and patient care at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Despite experiencing an increase in civil rights and privacy complaints, the Trump administration requested massive cuts to key divisions of the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), such as the Health Information Privacy Division and the Civil Rights Division. At the same time, despite receiving just 2 percent of complaints in FY 2018, the administration requested more than $1 million in additional funding for the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.

OCR Director Roger Severino has been using his office to expand religious exemptions at the expense of enforcing civil rights protections for everyone. These priorities are completely out of line, the analysis says. Under the Trump administration, the OCR has neglected its responsibility to uphold civil rights and privacy protections for everyone in favor of advancing a license to discriminate for certain beliefs and actively promoting discrimination against vulnerable groups.

Funding should increase to meet increased need and should be allocated to those divisions receiving the greatest number of complaints and undertaking the greatest number of investigations, the analysis says. It should not be used to finance the Trump administration’s interest in advancing religious exemptions at the expense of civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, women, and other marginalized groups covered by federal nondiscrimination protections, as well as health care privacy rights for everyone.

“If you believe, as we do, that the government’s budget is a moral document, Trump’s recent HHS budget is the latest indication that he has no regard for protecting civil rights,” said Sharita Gruberg, director of policy for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress.

“While the latest HHS budget is appalling on many levels, what’s particularly galling is that it eliminates millions of dollars from civil rights and privacy enforcement while funneling more money to Roger Severino’s Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the OCR, which has made it its mission to step on the civil rights of LGBTQ citizens and women under the guise of upholding religious liberty,” Gruberg said.

Read the column: “HHS Budget Would Fund Discrimination at Expense of Civil Rights Enforcement” by Sharita Gruberg.

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