The Biden administration has altered a Trump-era federal law in an effort to prevent health care discrimination against transgender people.
Previously, federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination in health care defined “sex” as the gender assigned at birth. Now, the word encompasses the spectrum of identity to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling is part of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act which prohibits health care providers and insurance companies from discriminating upon “race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.”
“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.” The policy is similar to the interpretation of the Affordable Care Act provision during the Obama administration. Under Obama, the law also protected gay and transgender people.
Roger Severino, a former HHS official, and conservative lawyer oversaw the process of the Trump policy and believes that the Biden administration did not follow a standard in setting their new rules. Severino said, “This is inflaming the culture wars, especially when you are trying to circumvent the process,” said Severino, now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank. Partly because of conflicting lower court rulings on the Trump and Obama policies, Becerra should have undertaken a formal rule-making, which can take months.” He believes litigation will likely follow.
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ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE 19TH NEWS
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