President Donald Trump’s administration appears to be just days away from rolling back an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination against LGBT patients.
Politico reports: The health department is close to finalizing its long-developing rewrite of Obamacare’s Section 1557 provision, which barred health care discrimination based on sex and gender identity. The administration’s final rule on Thursday was circulated at the Justice Department, a step toward publicly releasing the regulation in the coming days, said two people with knowledge of the pending rule. The White House on Friday morning also updated a regulatory dashboard to indicate that the rule was under review. Advocates fear that it would allow hospitals and health workers to more easily discriminate against patients based on their gender or sexual orientation. … “If the final rule is anything like the proposed rule, HHS is adopting changes that would be harmful in the best of times but that are especially cruel in the midst of a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities and exacerbating disparities,” said Katie Keith, a lawyer and Georgetown professor who’s tracked the rule.
Keith and other advocates fear the new rule will deter LGBT people from seeking care during the COVID-19 crisis.
Last month, more than 100 LGBT organizations signed a letter calling on public health officials to address the community’s heightened vulnerability to the coronavirus. And, earlier this week, the Center for American Progress issued a report highlighting the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on the LGBT community, including when it comes to healthcare discrimination.
From CAP’s report: Even when LGBTQ people have insurance coverage, discrimination can prevent them from accessing medical care. A growing number of courts are interpreting the ACA’s prohibition on sex discrimination to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in federally funded health programs; however, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently finalizing a rule that would remove explicit protections for LGBTQ patients. A nationally representative survey commissioned by CAP found that 1 in 4 LGBTQ people reported experiencing discrimination in the year prior, while 8 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and 29 percent of transgender adults reported that a health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ people who experienced any form of discrimination were nearly seven times more likely to report avoiding a visit to a doctor’s office to avoid discrimination. No one should be denied medical care because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, particularly not during a pandemic.
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