Updated Jun 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

HHS rolls back Obama-era transgender health care protections

LGBTQ flag
A Pride flag flies over the Mass. State House in Boston. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule on Friday to reverse protections for transgender people established under the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The action could make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny transgender people health coverage amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

  • HHS did not respond to a request for comment on how the new rule could affect transgender and LGBTQ people seeking health care as COVID-19 persists.

Catch up quick: The rollback rescinds an Obama administration rule that protected against discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" as well as sex — which allowed transgender people to be protected when seeking health care.

  • The rollback also removes Obama-era language that protected those who terminated a pregnancy from sex discrimination.
  • The Trump administration has tried to narrow the definition of gender as a "biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth" since at least 2018, by considering changes to the federal civil rights law Title IX.

What's next: Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign announced separate lawsuits against the rule on Friday.

What they're saying: “It will eliminate mass confusion that was unleashed by the Obama-era decision to redefine sex to cover a wide array of gender identities, when sex as a biological reality is so important to the practice of medicine," Civil Rights Chief Roger Severino said Friday, of the rollback.

  • “LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care. LGBTQ people should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are," HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement on Friday. "It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalized communities, deserve equality under the law."

Go deeper: Trump targets LGBTQ protections

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