But HHS can’t change the law, which continues to protect transgender people
In a court filing by the Justice Department today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it plans to roll back the historic regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision. Although an overwhelming majority of courts have said that federal sex discrimination laws such as Section 1557 of the ACA protect transgender people, HHS will spend the next several months trying to undo regulations that reflected that well-established principle. The announcement mirrors the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of landmark guidance supporting transgender students in February. The Trump administration continues to attack transgender people without regard to their health, safety, or ability to participate in American society.
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, offered the following statement in response:
The Section 1557 regulation has been literally life-saving for transgender people all across the country, who are routinely turned away from emergency rooms and doctors’ offices and refused coverage for critical medical care. Now, the Trump administration is going after transgender people yet again and trying to take away these basic protections. The administration is rejecting the views of every major medical association, most courts, and most Americans, who believe that people should not be denied health care because of who they are. That’s not just bad science and bad law—it’s a dangerous attack on transgender people’s ability to survive.
On March 1, the Justice Department took the highly unusual step of refusing to appeal a single judge’s order temporarily halting enforcement of Section 1557’s protections for transgender people and for patients facing discrimination because of a past abortion. In virtually every other historical instance where a single judge has enjoined a federal law, the Justice Department has appealed regardless of whether the sitting president agreed with the law or not. The judge in this case stopped HHS from taking any steps to enforce the law when hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, and insurance companies turn transgender people away for any reason, even when they’re seeking routine care, a position that conflicts with that of the vast majority of courts that have considered this issue.