HHS Proposes Critical Regulation to Protect Transgender People From Discrimination in Healthcare

by Ianthe Metzger

The proposed regulation is based on protections offered under the Affordable Care Act, and explicitly includes gender identity and sex stereotyping under sex-based discrimination protections

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights proposed a regulation that provides explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping and gender identity in healthcare and insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization praised the proposed regulation, as well as the stated commitment by HHS to preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“LGBT people have too often faced healthcare and coverage systems that provide inequitable and hostile treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “This proposed regulation will help address some of these disparities and is vitally important to help end discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people in healthcare and insurance. We are pleased the Administration has finally proposed these critical protections, and we urge HHS to fully implement the promises of the Affordable Care Act by including both gender identity and sexual orientation as protected characteristics in the final rule.”

HRC has repeatedly called on the Administration to implement these critical protections – as provided in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – including in HRC’s 2015 Blueprint for Positive Change, a series of actions the Administration can take to change the lives of LGBT Americans for the better.

Discrimination has touched the lives of many LGBT people at all points in the healthcare system – from being unable to access insurance coverage, to outright refusals to provide care, to verbal and physical abuse at the hands of medical professionals.

While LGBT people are at increased risk of discrimination in healthcare, most states do not provide insurance and healthcare non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

During the public comment period, which closes November 6, HRC will urge HHS to also explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, consistent with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruling and recent federal court decisions that includes discrimination based on sexual orientation as sex-based discrimination.

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


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