‘When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration introduced a proposal this week that would roll back several health care protections for transgender people that were afforded under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
The regulatory reversal, finalized on Tuesday, would allow healthcare workers to recuse themselves from treating transgender patients if the treatment clashed with religious beliefs.
And a new draft rule issued Wednesday would let gender-based homeless shelters turn away transgender people.
The proposal changes Obamacare’s definition of “sex discrimination,” which included gender identity. The Trump administration reversed that to allow religious groups greater freedom.
“This proposed rule seeks to amend regulations that identify sexual orientation or gender identity as prohibited bases for discrimination for certain Department funded or administered programs,” the proposal draft reads, according to Buzzfeed News.
Roger Severino, director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights, sad the change makes the agency “more consistent” with what Congress intended when it passed the ACA.
“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” he said, according to The Hill.
Opponents of the change argued that reversing the definition of “sex discrimination” eliminates important protections for transgenders.
“This rule dangerously encourages illegal discrimination, putting the lives of transgender people in jeopardy,” Kris Hayashi, executive director at Transgender Law Center, said in a statement.
Hayashi called the draft rule “yet another outright attack from the Trump administration on the health, well-being, and survival of transgender people.”
Severino said the HHS will continue to “vigorously” enforce civil rights protections for classes that are federally protected, like those based on race, color, national origin, disability, and sex.
“We believe in the inherent human dignity of all people,” Severino said. “Part of our mission is to make sure the health and well being of all Americans is furthered. That is not changing by this rule.”
Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, a religious rights advocacy group, applauded the move in a statement.
“The transgender mandate allowed the government to insert itself into the private, irreversible and sensitive medical decisions,” Windham said. “No wonder two courts ordered the government to change its ways.”
The new policy empowered doctors and patients to use common sense rather than political correctness in guiding their decisions, she added.
“Now patients can be reassured knowing their doctors are free to follow their best medical judgment as well as the most accepted medical research, including research relied on by HHS medical experts themselves,” Windham said. “This new rule follows medical consensus and common sense.”