May 10, 2021 - Health

HHS restores Obama-era transgender health care protections

Xavier Becerra speaks into a microphone
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra on May 5 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration will reinstate anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, especially transgender people, that had been narrowed under the Trump administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra confirmed Monday.

Why it matters: A Trump-era rule that excluded gender identity from sex discrimination protections made it easier for doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to deny transgender people health coverage.

  • The rollback came last June, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to narrow legal protections for LGBTQ people.
  • The new protections will bring the agency's policies in line with a Supreme Court ruling last year that prevents employers from firing employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, HHS said in a press release.

What they're saying: "It simply says what everyone already should know. You should not discriminate against people, that includes those based on sexual orientation or gender identity," Becerra told CNN.

  • "And when it comes to healthcare, we want to make sure that's the case. There was a provision in the Affordable Care Act, which said that, and so now it's clear."
  • "There's no ambiguity. You cannot discriminate against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

The big picture: LGBTQ advocates viewed Becerra's confirmation as a win for transgender rights, considering his track record as California's attorney general.

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