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Obamacare Nondiscrimination Protections Lead to Hospital Settlement for Trans Patient


This month, more than five years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its first case resolution under the law’s civil rights provision. The agreement reached with a New York City hospital is based on a trans woman’s complaint that she was harassed and improperly placed with a male roommate while a patient there. This action by HHS—which is poised to finally issue implementing rules on this section of the health law—shows that the ACA’s gender nondiscrimination mandate can and should offer real protection for LGBT people in health care settings.

The hospital agreed to adopt new policies and procedures, to be approved by HHS, and to provide new training for hospital staff. Changes will include enabling patients to provide both a legal and preferred name at intake, as well as gender identity/transgender status, and adopting a new nondiscriminatory policy for room placements.

Section 1557 prohibits all forms of gender-based discrimination in health care where federal funds are involved—that includes at health care facilities as well as in federally-supported health insurance plans. If you have experienced gender-based discrimination in health care, consult NCTE’s Know Your Rights resources, and consider filing a complaint with HHS and seeking legal help.

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