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Reversing ACA nondiscrimination to harm LGBTQ people, warn health advocates

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Reversing ACA nondiscrimination to harm LGBTQ people, warn health advocates

Health advocates warned that the Trump administration was planning to reverse a regulation that implemented the Affordable Care Act or ACA nondiscrimination provision.

This, in turn, would leave the LGBTQ communities open to discrimination in health care facilities and programs that get federal funding.

Removing ACA nondiscrimination endangers LGBTQ people

This warning was initiated by the Fenway Institute of Fenway Health with their policy brief that showed how LGBTQ people could be affected by a health care regulation pushed by the Trump administration last July.

It all started last June 14 when the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a regulation that would reverse the 2016 final rule implementing the nondiscrimination provision of the ACA called Section 1557.

HHS said the proposed rule was in response to ongoing litigation with states and providers over the 2016 rule, which led to a preliminary injunction that barred the agency from enforcing parts of the Section 1557 rule.

Once finalized, the Trump rule would remove explicit sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination provisions in a number of health regulations as well.

According to Fenway, the pubic– especially health care professionals and advocates– have until August 13 to comment on the said regulation to reconsider the proposal.

Fenway speaks on protecting ACA nondiscrimination regulation

Fenway reported that anti-LGBT discrimination in health care is widespread, and correlates with poorer health and well-being for LGBT people. Because of this, LGBT people are less likely to access health care.

“Initial news reports about the proposed rule characterized it as anti-transgender,” said Fenway Institute Health Policy Fellow Katherine Laurila, author of the brief.

“But the scope of the proposed regulation extends far beyond the gender identity and sex stereotyping provisions of the 2016 nondiscrimination provisions of Rule 1557,” Laurilla said.

Meanwhile, Carl Sciortino, Vice President of Government & Community Relations at Fenway Health, said: “This proposed regulation would have far-reaching implications for the LGBT community, all of them negative.”

“If this rule is enacted, the Trump Administration will succeed in reversing much of the progress made in federal health policy over the past decade,” Sciortino said.

Health advocates get into the act to protect LGBTQ people

In response to Fenway’s call, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and other advocacy groups have expressed concerns in public comment letters to the HHS.

“Removing these nondiscrimination provisions runs counter to the mission of the HHS to ensure the health and well-being of all Americans, including LGBT Americans,” the letter stated.

In another letter, America’s Essential Hospitals CEO Dr. Bruce Siegel said “the rollback of federal protection from discrimination will exacerbate the challenges transgender individuals face in health care settings.”

“Without these protections, transgender patients are less likely to receive high-quality, equitable care,” Siegel wrote.

Sharita Gruberg, director of policy for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, warned that: “the proposal’s expansive decimation of existing protections reveals that this is just the administration’s latest effort to undermine the ACA at the cost of patient care.”

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