Press Room

April 28, 2004

Category: HIV & AIDS

HRC Urges Defeat of Discriminatory Michigan Health Care Package

'Tragically, these bills allow doctors to discriminate,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today urged the Michigan Senate and Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm to defeat a discriminatory health care package. These bills would allow refusal of treatment for specific medical conditions that uniquely affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, including hormone therapy for transgender people and assisted reproduction for same-sex couples.

"Tragically, these bills allow doctors to discriminate," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Even now, the GLBT community avoids medical treatment at an alarming rate. This package could have a devastating effect on the community."

The Michigan House of Representatives passed four bills (House Bills 5006, 5276, 5277 and 5278) on April 21, 2004. As a package, the bills would allow, under certain conditions, a health care provider or health facility to refuse to provide or participate in a health care service and allow health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to refuse to offer or provide a health care benefit. The bill also fails to require health care providers to give referrals to providers who offer services they refuse.

"The American Academy of HIV Medicine vehemently opposes any bill that would encourage discrimination in the clinical setting," says AAHIVM Chief Executive Officer R. Scott Hitt, M.D. Further, Kenneth Haller, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, has called the bill "clearly unethical."

"This bill violates every measure of medical ethics. If doctors want to discriminate in the delivery of health care, they should get out of the medical profession," said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle Foundation. "We hope the governor will veto any version of this bill."

"Five other states have harmful bills like this pending in 2004," added Jacques. Those states are Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. "No bill that denies equal health care treatment should pass."

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.