HHS Advances Health Equity and Protections for LGBT Americans

By: Andrew Shaughnessy
Originally posted on http://www.PROMOonline.org

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new rules to advance health equity and reduce disparities in health care for transgender people.  The proposed rule, Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities—which specifically bans discrimination based on gender identity and sex stereotyping—will protect the most vulnerable from discrimination, and will help to provide transgender Missourians equal access to health care and health coverage.

The rule implements Section 1557 under Affordable Care Act, which is the first federal law to extend civil rights laws—including sex nondiscrimination protections—to the health care system. What does this mean? That certain health insurers and health care providers can no longer discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sex stereotyping), age, or disability. |

Many types of organizations have to comply with Section 1557. This includes any facility that accepts federal health care funding (such as hospitals that accept Medicare patients or doctors or clinics who treat Medicaid patients), any health insurer that offers at least one plan on the marketplace, and any health program administered by HHS (such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the marketplace).

Missouri LGBT health advocates are proud that the rule strongly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sex stereotyping. As a result, transgender people in every state, including Missouri, should feel confident in their right to access affirming, respectful health care services.

Among other provisions, the proposed rule:

  • Prohibits state Medicaid programs and many private health insurance plans from categorically excluding coverage for transition-related care 
  • Protects access to medically necessary transition-related health care services 
  • Ensures that transgender individuals will have access to health care facilities based on their gender identity 
  • Prohibits discrimination against any individual—including lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals—on the basis of stereotypical notions of femininity or masculinity

If you have experienced discrimination, please contact us or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. (And learn more about the significant steps that the Office for Civil Rights has already taken to remedy discrimination against transgender individuals.)

HHS is currently asking concerned citizens to submit comments on the proposed rule. Comments are due on November 3rd, 2015 and we encourage all LGBT Missourians to take action today by sharing your experiences with discrimination in the health care system.

You can help ensure that the final rule protects our community and, ultimately, saves lives.

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