White House aims to restore health care protections for LGBTQ workers

A settlement proposed by the Biden administration would once again protect transgender and other LGBTQ workers seeking health care services from discrimination.

Proposal new rule would reverse a Trump-era regulation by restoring gender identity and sexual orientation as categories protected from discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability by entities that primarily provide health care and receive federal funding.

The news comes after the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in May 2021 that its Office of Civil Rights will define sex discrimination after the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Bostock v. County of Claytonwhich expanded the federal civil rights ban on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We want to make sure that whoever you are, whatever you look like, wherever you live, however you want to live your life, that you have access to the care you need,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of HHS, via Bloomberg Law.

Under the rule, it would be illegal for health care organizations that receive federal funding to discriminate against gender-affirming care. The settlement would also protect anyone discriminated against because of pregnancy or related conditions in light of the recent Roe vs. Wade reversal.

The proposal comes as HHS pointed to federal civil rights laws, including parts of the ACA, to warn pharmacists to deny access to drugs that can be used for abortions, according to a recent report from The Washington Post.

HHS will invite comments for 60 days after the rule is published. Becerra told reporters the department wants to move quickly and hopes to finalize the rule in 2022.

LGBTQ defends praise proposition

The White House had been considering the proposed rule since March 2022.

The Biden administration has held meetings with conservative and religious organizations, such as the Family Research Council, which have argued that reversing Trump-era changes would force health care providers to perform procedures against their beliefs. nuns.

“All we’re trying to do is make the case for caution and compassion based on evidence, not ideology,” said officials from Genspect, an international parenting group that has challenged question the need for gender transitions, written in april after a meeting.

But LGBTQ rights advocates welcomed the decision. Jean-Marie Navetta, director of learning and inclusion for PFLAG National, said the rule proposal could not come at a more important time and should be celebrated.

“At a time when we see state legislatures creating barriers and even criminalizing the affirmation of quality care, proposed changes to Rule 1557 affirm that health care should be available to all who need it and to an equally high standard, regardless of your race, disability, gender or where you come from,” she said.

A growing list of employers nationwide have developed policies that are inclusive for their employees, both in practice and in benefits. However, many LGBTQ workers are not employed by such companies and do not reap such benefits, Navetta explained.

“This [proposal] is one more step to closing care gaps within a population that continues to be marginalized by too many state-level governments,” she said.

The White House is focusing on LGBTQ rights

Navetta noted how LGBTQ people have had their rights granted, taken away and then reinstated over the course of three administrations.

“It’s because people who experience gender discrimination, including discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, lack federal protections in public housing like health care,” she said. . “No person, regardless of gender, should have to worry about whether they will receive adequate care based on who is in the White House.”

Since 2021, the federal government has defended LGBTQ rights through several measures:

  • March 2021: The Department of Defense has issued detailed guidelines to formally rescind the ban on military service for transgender people.
  • October 2021: The Department of State has announced that it will begin allowing passport applicants to use the “X” gender marker option in early 2022.
  • November 2021: Biden nominated Alison Nathan to a seat on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals; she became the second openly lesbian woman to serve on a federal appeals court.
  • June 2022: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the implementation of the ability to select a non-binary “X” gender marker during the admissions process for filing a discrimination charge .

Biden also urged Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations and other services. .

About Antoine L. Cassell

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