Human Rights Campaign President Applauds Biden Administration’s Enforcement of Health Care Nondiscrimination Protections

by Aryn Fields

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign applauded the Biden administration’s decision to enforce federal sex non-discrimination provisions to protect the LGBTQ community against discrimination in health care. The Trump administration finalized a rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act in 2020 designed to eliminate explicit protections from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity, thereby sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people, in federally-funded health care programs and activities. The rule was scheduled to take effect last August, but was blocked by a preliminary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by the Human Rights Campaign.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David released the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s announcement:

LGBTQ people undeniably deserve access to the health care they need, and the Biden administration’s decision to enforce these non-discrimination protections will ensure no hospitals, clinics, or other federally-funded health care program can deny someone care simply because of who they are. The Trump administration’s reprehensible efforts to blatantly discriminate against LGBTQ people – particularly transgender and non-binary people – were harmful and ignorant, which is why the Human Rights Campaign successfully sued and obtained a preliminary injunction that blocked the rule’s elimination of protections for sexual orientation and gender identity from taking effect last year. We applaud the Biden administration’s decision to enforce these non-discrimination protections in health care, particularly at a time LGBTQ people are under attack from a record-breaking number of discriminatory bills being signed into law and moving through state legislatures across the country.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

Fear of discrimination causes many LGBTQ people to avoid seeking health care, and when they do enter care, studies indicate that they 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 a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 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.

The Human Rights Campaign fought against the Trump-Pence administration’s attempts to revise this rule in a way that would undermine protections for LGBTQ people since the effort was announced in 2019, and filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence administration’s decision to roll back critical civil rights protections in the rule implementing Section 1557. HRC, along with its coalition partners, submitted more than 120,000 public comments expressing concerns about the proposed rule that year, with 26,000 coming directly from HRC members.

Following HRC’s strong organizing and robust legal efforts, a federal judge granted an injunction in the lawsuit to prohibit the Trump-Pence administration from implementing the rule. The injunction was granted one day before the rule was scheduled to take effect.

The Human Rights Campaign released the Blueprint for Positive Change 2020, an important brief that includes more than 85 individual policy recommendations, reaching across the federal government, aimed at bettering the daily lives of LGBTQ people. Recommendations include enforcing Section 1557 to protect LGBTQ people and rescind and replace regulations restricting coverage of Section 1557.

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