/Trump administration rolls back health care protections for transgender patients

Trump administration rolls back health care protections for transgender patients

People rally for transgender protections

People in New York City rally to maintain protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people. On Friday, the Trump administration rolled back a policy that barred health care discrimination based on sex. | Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration Friday scrapped an Obama-era policy that prohibited health care providers from discriminating against transgender patients, in its latest rollback of federal protections for transgender people.

The health department is rewriting an Obamacare regulation that barred health care discrimination based on sex. The Obama administration had issued a rule asserting that the provisions covered gender identity, but a federal judge blocked those protections in 2016 following a lawsuit from religious groups.

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The new rule says HHS will repeal the Obama-era definition of sex protections in order to make its regulations “more consistent” with other agencies. This week the Department of Housing and Urban Development moved to allow discrimination against homeless transgender people.

The HHS announcement comes shortly after the department finalized rules making it easier for health care workers to refuse to provide care that violates their religious or moral beliefs, a policy favored by anti-abortion groups and Christian conservatives closely allied with the Trump administration. Democratic attorneys general in New York, California and more than 20 other cities and states have filed lawsuits challenging the so-called conscience protections.

LGBTQ patient advocates, who say they often face discrimination when seeking routine procedures or medication, warn the new Trump administration policies put them at greater risk of being denied care.

Anticipating backlash, the administration is emphasizing that its overhaul of the nondiscrimination rules, which also mandate accommodations for people with disabilities and those who don’t speak English proficiently, will save the health care industry billions of dollars in time and paperwork. For instance, the administration is easing a requirement for health insurers to publish many documents in 15 languages.

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