District Court Preliminarily Blocks Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, Preventing Enforcement of Non-Discrimination Healthcare Protections for LGBTQ+ Americans Nationwide

by Aneesha Pappy

Without Section 1557’s clear protections in place, LGBTQ+ Americans are at risk of being discriminated against within an array of medical services, exacerbating healthcare inequities.

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, harshly condemned the decision by a District Court judge to order a nationwide injunction, blocking enforcement of the newly finalized LGBTQ+ non-discrimination protections under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for Americans who experience discrimination based on their gender identity.

The consequences of this preliminary injunction may impact many patients across the country. Without enforcement of Section 1557 against discrimination based on gender identity, health care providers who receive federal funding may be encouraged to discriminate and deny coverage, limiting, and under some circumstances, denying critical access to necessary medical services for patients in need.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Kelley Robinson released the following statement:

“The discrimination LGBTQ+ people will continue to experience under this injunction is indefensible. This ruling is not only morally wrong, it's also bad policy. Everyone deserves access to the medical care they need to be healthy and thrive. Instead, this court has sided with the fringe groups and politicians who want to bully our community at every opportunity. This isn’t over: all LGBTQ+ people should receive the health care they deserve and be able to make informed decisions about our own bodies.”

The Department of Health and Human Services first proposed the Section 1557 rule in 2022. The rule, as written then, already prohibited most insurers from discriminating on the basis of sex — including gender identity — when providing health coverage. However, greater LGBTQ+ protections that were part of the rule’s original Obama-era implementation were rolled back by the Trump administration in 2019. HRC sued in 2020 to block the rollbacks from going into effect, with a preliminary injunction granted shortly after.

If today’s injunction is allowed to stand, we could see increased incidents of:

  • Denial of coverage for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that transgender people regularly need (services that are commonly received by cisgender counterparts, often with fewer barriers)

  • Verbal or physical abuse from doctors or other medical providers directed at LGBTQ+ patients

  • Turning away LGBTQ+ people in emergency situations because of their gender identity

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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