The Trump administration quietly disseminated a memo Thursday, the last step before enacting the announced rule change removing transgender people as a health care protected class. LGBTQ Nation reported that the memo was circulated by the Health and Human Services (HHS) as Coronavirus mortality rates peaked, ravaging at-risk populations.
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Politico reported Friday that the Health and Human Services(HHS) 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 DOJ, 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.
The Williams Institute published a study this month identifying over half a million Transgender Adults out of a population of approx 1.4 million in the US as at elevated risk from COVID-19.
According to the CDC, those who are over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions are most at risk of serious COVID-19 illness.
- 217,000 transgender people are 65 or older
- 319,000 transgender people have underlying health issues that contribute to higher mortality rates.
- 137,600 transgender people are uninsured.
- 450,400 transgender people haven’t seen a doctor last year because they couldn’t afford it.
- 667,000 transgender people live below 200% of the poverty line.
- 294,800 transgender adults live alone without family or any mutual support systems.
In last year’s proposal, the health department also proposed changes that went further than simply rolling back the new Obama protections, moving to eliminate similar nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ patients that were contained in other regulations.
“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.
The rule would restrict the LGBTQ population’s access to care amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Society shares the concerns expressed by the Chairs of the House Committees that oversee the Department of Health and Human Services in a letter sent to the Administration today and urged the White House to not move forward with the rule.
The regulation will weaken the previous administration’s definition of “sex discrimination” to remove protections for gender identity, among other protections. Patients could be turned away or denied medical care because they are transgender, and the Society strongly opposes restricting access to care. The Society has already signed onto a letter to HHS along with 30 other health care organizations and submitted comments expressing serious concerns with the proposed rule.
The Endocrine Society’s position is to maintain access to care and protect transgender individuals from being turned away based on gender discrimination. It’s essential that transgender care is covered by insurance, and the Society encourages further research into transgender health to address gaps in knowledge.