Trump administration targets transgender health care protections

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a new rule which would roll back health care protections for transgender patients.

In the rule, issued May 24, HHS proposes changing a section of the Affordable Care Act to remove protections for LGBTQ people in health care. It would exclude protections from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity.

“Known as the Health Care Rights Law, the rule was the subject of a regulation published by the Obama administration in 2016 that confirmed transgender people were protected by the law’s provisions prohibiting discrimination from providers and insurers,” the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) explains. “This regulation has helped doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to update policies, train staff, and eliminate coverage exclusions for transition-related care.”

“Predicated on little more than prejudice, this proposal will abandon 2 million Americans who already face significant barriers to accessing adequate and life-saving health care,” NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said in a statement.

“This is not about free health care or special treatment. It’s about the right of every American to be treated with dignity when they walk into an emergency room, meet a new doctor, or find the right insurance plan,” Keisling continued. “If permitted, this rule will promote ignorance and hate that no American should have to face while seeking care, and we are ready to fight it with everything we’ve got.”

“This proposed rule is yet another outright attack from the Trump administration on the health, well-being, and survival of transgender people,” Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi added. “Everyone should be able to go to the doctor when we need help without being turned away or denied treatment because of who we are.

“That’s what the law says, yet in practice many transgender people still face devastating discrimination in health care,” Hayashi continued. “This rule dangerously encourages illegal discrimination, putting the lives of transgender people in jeopardy – particularly for trans people living with HIV, Black transgender people and people of color, trans people with disabilities, and rural and Southern trans folks.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) also responded to the news. “The Trump-Pence administration’s latest attack threatens to undermine crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people provided for under the Affordable Care Act,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy released.

“The administration puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he continued. “Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”

The proposed rule now enters a 60-day public comment period. According to the NCTE, if a final rule issued in the coming months is similar to the new proposal, it will draw legal challenges similar to Trump’s ban on transgender military service members.

Photo courtesy The Washington Blade.

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