Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion seeks to ban trans­gen­der health care bias

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion said Thurs­day it wants to ban dis­crim­i­na­tion against trans­gen­der peo­ple in the health care sys­tem, a move that re­flects an ever-brighter spotlight on “trans” is­sues in the U.S.

Part of long-awaited reg­u­la­tions re­leased by the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, the pro­posal builds on a part of Oba­macare that for the first time banned health care dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex.

The rules, if fi­nal­ized later this year, would wrap gen­der iden­tity into that pro­hi­bi­tion.

While it would not force in­sur­ers to cover spe­cific pro­ce­dures such as sex­change surgery, it would bar them from deny­ing med­i­cally nec­es­sary ser­vices to peo­ple who’ve gone through a gen­der tran­si­tion.

For ex­am­ple, a doc­tor or hos­pi­tal could not refuse treat­ment for ovar­ian can­cer just be­cause the pa­tient iden­ti­fies as a trans­gen­der man. Also, trans­gen­der pa­tients could not be barred from us­ing health fa­cil­ity re­strooms that match their pre­ferred gen­der iden­tity.

“The pro­posed HHS rule is an enor­mous mile­stone for all trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple in the U.S. ac­cess to safe, re­spect­ful health care [as] a ba­sic hu­man right, and this pol­icy makes a huge ad­vance to­ward eq­uity in health care for trans­gen­der peo­ple,” said Kris Hayashi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Trans­gen­der Law Cen­ter.

The pro­posed rules also re­quire hos­pi­tals and other providers to pro­vide no­tice that as­sis­tance is avail­able to peo­ple with lim­ited English pro­fi­ciency or dis­abil­i­ties.

The reg­u­la­tion would ap­ply to in­sur­ers, hos­pi­tals and providers that re­ceive fed­eral funds on Oba­macare’s health ex­changes or through other public pro­grams, such as Medi­care.

“This pro­posed rule is an im­por­tant step to strengthen pro­tec­tions for peo­ple who have of­ten been sub­ject to dis­crim­i­na­tion in our health care sys­tem,” Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Sylvia Mathews Bur­well said. “This is another ex­am­ple of this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to giv­ing ev­ery Amer­i­can ac­cess to the health care they de­serve.”

HHS re­leased its pro­posal amid no­table de­vel­op­ments in the “trans move­ment.” For­mer Olympic gold medal­ist Bruce Jen­ner re­ceived wall-to-wall cov­er­age through mag­a­zine cov­ers and his own re­al­ity TV show af­ter he trans­formed him­self into “Cait­lyn,” and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion last month hired the first openly trans­gen­der of­fi­cial in White House history.

The Na­tional Cen­ter for Trans­gen­der Equal­ity said the reg­u­la­tion, if fi­nal­ized, “could re­sult in one of the big­gest wins of this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Re­ac­tion from other in­ter­est groups was largely pos­i­tive, although The AIDS In­sti­tute said HHS could go fur­ther to crack down on in­sur­ers that put ev­ery med­i­ca­tion for cer­tain con­di­tions on the high­est-cost tier, do not cover the med­i­ca­tions at all or force pa­tients to pay to much out of their own pock­ets.

HHS is re­quest­ing feed­back through Nov. 6 on the pro­posal. In par­tic­u­lar, it wants to know if new re­li­gious ex­emp­tions are needed in light of the new pro­hi­bi­tions.

Al­ready Oba­macare’s birth con­trol rules on em­ploy­ers kicked off a lon­grun­ning court saga, af­ter de­vout cor­po­rate own­ers and faith-based non­prof­its com­plained that man­dated cov­er­age of cer­tain types of con­tra­cep­tives vi­o­lated their re­li­gious be­liefs.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has tried to ac­com­mo­date the non­prof­its and closely held cor­po­ra­tions who beat back the man­date be­fore the Supreme Court last year, although many in the non­profit camp want a blan­ket ex­emp­tion from the rule.

Thurs­day’s pro­posal says HHS does not plan to roll back ex­ist­ing re­li­gious ex­emp­tions or con­science pro­tec­tions for health care providers.

“The pro­posed HHS rule is an enor­mous

mile­stone for all trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing peo­ple in the U.S. ac­cess to safe, re­spect­ful health care [as] a ba­sic hu­man right.” — Kris Hayashi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor

of the Trans­gen­der Law Cen­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.