The Washington Post reports that the Trump Administration is attempting to pass a new rule that could potentially wipe out nondiscrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act for LGBTQ people. This would make it easier for hospitals, physicians, and insurers to deny transgender people care or coverage for religious purposes.
The administration takes issue with the word “sex” in the provisions. In 2016, some faith-based health-care organizations were angered when Obama’s Health and Human Services Department included gender identity and transgender people as proctected classes within the term.
Those working with faith-based health-care organizations were concerned that they would be forced to provide services to help transgender people transition to their chosen gender. Many of the groups filed lawsuits which argued that this was a violation of their religious freedom.
Trump’s HHS has now agreed that the 2016 rule is illegal, and they will be rewriting it.
“The United States has returned to its long-standing position that the term 'sex’ . . . does not refer to gender identity,” HHS attorneys wrote.
Sexual orientation and gender identity issues are extremely contentious and unsettled. The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it has accepted three cases involving gay and transgender employees.
The rewriting of the HHS rule is part of an effort by conservatives and Trump officials to change language in official documents relating to LBGTQ individuals.
There has been no official HHS announcement concerning work on the Affordable Care Act nondiscrimination rule, but the HHS has discussed its efforts during a lawsuit which involves the Franciscan Alliance, a hospital company, and the Christian Medical and Dental Association. In 2016 a judge temporarily prevented the groups from being forced to provide care that violates their beliefs.
The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Luke Goodrich, says the organizations have provided care to diverse patients for decades, including transgender people. He says the organizations have studied transition-related care and think that it involves “a significant amount of medical risks and side effects.”
“They believe those procedures could be deeply harmful and as a matter of religious beliefs, they don’t want to be involved,” said Goodrich.
The American Civil Liberties Union has pointed out that the new rule could allow care providers to give substandard care to LGBTQ individuals, or allow them to not give treatment at all under the guise of religious freedom.
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