Activist groups are outraged at new reports surfacing that the Trump administration will roll back ObamaCare’s anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients.
In the next few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services will propose a new rule that will allow more flexibility for doctors and hospitals to deny treatment to transgender patients and women who have had abortions, which will essentially dismantle a controversial anti-discrimination provision contained within ObamaCare. The new rule would strengthen the right not to provide treatment to an individual that’s against the religious provider’s beliefs.
Advocacy groups like the ACLU and Lambda Legal, who tend to oppose Trump on many of his actions, acknowledge they haven’t seen the proposed rule. However, they say administration officials have made their plans abundantly clear and plan to take action.
“We are deeply concerned,” said Sasha Buchert, a staff attorney at Lambda Legal. “DOJ has already shown its hand… [W]e stand ready to respond.”
“I don’t think they [HHS] are going to have an easy time … and we’ll make sure they hear every objection and justify what they’re doing,” said Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU, said in their own statement.
President Trump pledged support for the LGBT community numerous times during his campaign, but LGBT advocates and the overall community say the president isn’t remaining true to his words. They cite concerns such as his recent actions to revoke civil rights protections for gay and lesbian troops and ban transgender people from the military. Two LGBTQ advocacy groups have filed lawsuits against President Trump for banning transgenders from the military.
The Obama administration prohibited healthcare providers and insurers who receive federal funding and money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity, religion or termination of pregnancy, among other conditions. The rule also required doctors and hospitals to provide “medically necessary” services to transgender individuals, as long as those services were the same ones provided to others.
A group of Christian providers called the Franciscan Alliance challenged the Obama-era rule, arguing in court that the rule forces insurers to pay for abortions and compels doctors to perform gender transition services, even if the services go against their medical judgment. The Alliance ended up winning that case, and a Texas district court judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the gender identity and pregnancy termination provisions from taking effect.
The HHS under Trump decided not to appeal the ruling. On Aug. 4, the Department of Justice, which is representing HHS in the lawsuit, said it was reviewing a draft proposed rule that had already cleared HHS, though it remains unclear when the DOJ will complete the review. Once the DOJ finishes, the final step before the rule’s release is a required review by the Office of Management and Budget.
Buchert said she was surprised at how quickly HHS drafted the new proposal: “I expected them to take more time in deliberating, in the same way the original rule was crafted, rather than crafting something internally and sending it over to DOJ.”
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