HRC responded to the Trump-Pence administration’s latest attempt to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people and their families. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a final version of a regulation that would allow medical providers to cite their personal beliefs in refusing to provide a broad spectrum of services — including lifesaving care for LGBTQ patients.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s latest attack threatens LGBTQ people by permitting medical providers to deny critical care based on personal beliefs,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “The administration’s decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”
HHS announced today the issuance of the final rule that will sanction discrimination by healthcare providers who believe their personal beliefs should determine the care a patient receives. The rule could allow virtually any individual or entity involved in a patient’s care — from a hospital’s board of directors to the receptionist that schedules procedures — to put personal beliefs ahead of a patient’s health. This regulation will undoubtedly empower health care providers to deny necessary care to LGBTQ people and women.
This regulation will deter health care organizations and providers from taking necessary action to guarantee that all patients have access to the care they not only deserve but also are legally entitled to. In practice, the broad reach of the rule could allow health care providers to refuse to provide not only abortion and sterilization procedures, but also to deny treatment or preventative care for AIDS or HIV, hormone therapy treatment and transition related care and in-vitro fertilization for lesbians, single women or interfaith couples. The rule is especially dangerous for those already facing barriers to care, particularly LGBTQ patients, patients of color and those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Fear of discrimination causes many LGBTQ people to avoid seeking health care, and when they do enter care, studies indicate that LGBTQ people are not consistently treated with the respect that all patients deserve. Studies show that 56% of LGB people and 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by health care providers — including refusal of care, harsh language and physical roughness because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 23% of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person and a startling 55% of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied. Delay and avoidance of care due to fear of discrimination compounds the significant health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people.