USA: Biden administration reinstates LGBTQ healthcare protections denied by Trump
US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Monday that healthcare providers are prohibited from discriminating against gay and transgender individuals, reversing a controversial Donald Trump-era policy.
HHS’s decision allows the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to extend the interpretation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such interpretation allows OCR to exert the enforcement mechanisms available under Title IX when applying section 1557 in healthcare discrimination cases.
The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is a law signed by former US President Barack Obama in 2010 and designed to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. In June, HHS under Trump proposed a rule consisting of a rewrite of section 1557 which would strike down protections for LGBTQ patients. The new position of HHS under the Joe Biden administration represents a reversal of the reversal.
The new policy echoes the US Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, where the majority held the plain meaning of “because of sex” in Title VII necessarily included discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the court, gender identity and sexual orientation are inexorably intertwined with sex.
Becerra said in a statement, “The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination.”
Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health, added, “No one should be discriminated against when seeking medical services because of who they are.”
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