The Trump administration has finalized a rule allowing health care providers to refuse care to transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.
Reversing an Obama-era regulation, the change in rules at the Health & Human Services Department rolls back an interpretation of prohibiting sex discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that included protections for trans people.
Under the Obama administration, discriminating against trans people basically boiled down to animus based on the ‘sex’ of a trans person. In the Trump administration, discriminating against trans people is fine.
The announcement on the HHS website adds the new rule will “relieve the American people of approximately $2.9 billion in undue and ineffective regulatory burdens over five years.”
Mary Beth Waddell, a senior legislative assistant for the virulently anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, celebrated the finalized rule in a statement which read in part, “Under the old Obama rule, medical professionals could have been forced to facilitate gender reassignment surgeries and abortions — even if they believed this was a violation of their conscience or believed it harmful to the patient.”
Dr. Susan R. Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, issued her opposition in a statement:
“Respect for the diversity of patients is a fundamental value of the medical profession and is reflected in long-standing AMA policy opposing discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or a woman’s decisions about pregnancy, including termination.
“The federal government should never make it more difficult for individuals to access health care — during a pandemic or any other time.”
Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project issued this statement:
“Access to quality health care without discrimination is critical right now, and thankfully, whatever this new rule may say, LGBTQ people are still protected under the law. This rule sends a dangerous and confusing message to health care providers at the worst possible time. In the midst of a global pandemic with serious implications for the LGBTQ youth The Trevor Project serves, the last thing our nation needs is for the Administration to suggest, contrary to the plain language of the Affordable Care Act, that medical care providers don’t have to treat transgender and nonbinary people with the same care and respect as everybody else.”
The Human Rights Campaign’s Alphonso David denounced the news saying LGBTQ people “should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are.”
“It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalized communities, deserve equality under the law,” said the HRC president. “But we have a reality check for them: We will not let this attack on our basic right to be free from discrimination in health care go unchallenged. We will see them in court, and continue to challenge all of our elected officials to rise up against this blatant attempt to erode critical protections people need and sanction discrimination.”
And Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, of the pro-LGBTQ law organization Lambda Legal, announced his group is planning a lawsuit against the Trump administration.
“We will be challenging the rule because at a time when the entire world is battling a dangerous pandemic, which in the United States has infected more than 2,000,000 people and killed more than 116,000, it is critical for everyone to have ready access to the potentially life-saving health care they need,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.
While the reversal of the former regulations had been in discussion for some time, Health & Human Services decided to release the announcement on 4 pm just before the weekend in the middle of Pride Month.
And the Trump administration’s assault on LGBTQ protections continues…