US President Donald Trump’s administration finalized a Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) administrative rule to revoke the non-discrimination protections for transgender people in health care set under ObamaCare. The move, which was confirmed during the annual Pride Month (celebrated throughout the month of June) and on the four-month anniversary of Pulse Nightclub Shooting (where a gunman claimed the lives of 49 people in a popular LGBTQ+ venue in Orlando), has proved as a major setback for the LGBTQ+ community in the USA.
The new policy eliminates the provisions declared under Sec 1557 of the Affordable Care Act which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities” for transgender people. In 2016, the Obama-Era redefined the protection with reference to sex into ‘gender identity’ – “which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female” to subsume people of all gender identities and non-binary individuals.
According to the statement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) will enforce the government’s interpretation of “sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.” Under the guidelines of this new policy, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies can now easily reject treatment for a transgender or non-binary individual if they don’t approve of it, which the ObamaCare rule had previously eliminated. They are further excluded from accessing medical health benefits, insurance coverage for sex-reassignment surgeries or hormones, and other common ailment treatments.
Roger Severino, who directs the Office for Civil Rights in the HSS said, “the rule could save hospitals and insurers and others USD 2.9 billion for five years.” The discriminatory law was received with applaud and support from religious conservatives and Republicans who believed the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority in broadly interpreting gender.
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Today’s Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBTQ Americans from workplace discrimination is an affirmation of our country’s founding promise of equality for all. I’m heartened to think of all those Americans who will no longer live in fear of being fired because of who they are and who they love. It’s a moment decades in the making, a reminder that progress can be slow—but it is always possible. And it’s validation for all those out there speaking out and marching so that our country’s founding promise might touch even more of our people. Happy Pride month, everybody.
Human Rights Campaign plans to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its discriminatory actions. “We cannot and will not allow Donald Trump to continue attacking us. Today, the Human Rights Campaign is announcing plans to sue the Trump administration for exceeding their legal authority and attempting to remove basic health care protections from vulnerable communities including LGBTQ people,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care. 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,” the statement added.
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LGBTQ+ advocates and politicians view the reversing of laws during the pandemic as a convenient cover. The executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, said in a statement, “Even as the death toll and catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic grows and people take to the streets, the Trump administration remains focused on denying equal access to health care to transgender people.”
Amidst the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and the pandemic, American citizens face yet another adversity.
Featured Image Via Vox.