The Department of Health and Human Services wants to undermine protections that bar discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping in the Affordable Care Act — a two-pronged attack on both President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law and on LGBTQ people.
Warren, one of the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination, urged her supporters to “fight back” against the move in a tweet.
“Everyone should be able to access high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care,” Warren wrote. “But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest.”
She then linked to a website that encouraged people to leave a comment on the federal register opposing the plan.
Everyone should be able to access high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care. But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest: https://t.co/pKDcOqbsc7
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 13, 2019
DHHS has reportedly received thousand of comments opposing the change to the Affordable Care Act, which would allow health care providers to deny transition-related care or gender reassignment surgery to trans individuals.
A coalition of House Democrats submitted a formal letter urging DHHS to abandon the plan.
“The proposed rule would embolden discrimination against [LGBTQ] people, including those who are nonbinary and gender nonconforming,” the letter, signed by 125 Democrats, said. “An estimated two million transgender patients, who already face significant barriers to care, could be unlawfully denied access to the care they need or forego care entirely for fear of discrimination.”
The American Medical Association similarly criticized the rule change, saying it would “negatively affect patients by drastically limiting the scope of health plans to which the non-discrimination provisions apply, thereby eliminating coverage protections for certain individuals, such as transgender people, women, LGBTQ people, and individuals living with HIV.”
The AMA noted that the proposed changed marked “the rare occasion in which a federal agency seeks to remove civil rights protections. It legitimizes unequal treatment of patients by not only providers, health care organizations, and insurers, but also by the government itself — and it will harm patients.”
A coalition of Attorneys General from 21 states and the District of Columbia also submitted a letter opposing the change, saying it would “[license] discrimination in our healthcare system.”
They also slammed the Trump administration for once again trying to attack and undermine the rights of LGBTQ people.
“The Proposed Rule demonstrates a reckless disregard for the healthcare needs of LGBTQ individuals,” they wrote. “The administration’s hostility toward this community, as evidenced by this rule, the ‘Refusal Rule,’ and a number of other proposals — such as those to ban transgender people from the military, allow discrimination in federally-funded shelters, and limit adoption opportunities — feed further discrimination, stigma, and ostracism.”
When the rule change was first publicized earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign slammed the Trump administration for once again trying to undermine nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
“This administration has attempted time and time again to strip LGBTQ people of necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” David Stacy, HRC’s director of government affairs, said in a statement. “Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”