Jul 25, 2022 - Health

Biden administration proposes rule to strengthen LGBTQ, gender protections

Picture of Xavier Becerra

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced a proposed rule to strengthen protections against sex discrimination and reiterates that people cannot be discriminated against for seeking reproductive health care.

Driving the news: Under the Trump administration in 2020, HHS rescinded an Obama-era regulation on the Affordable Care Act that prohibited against discrimination on gender identity and sexual orientation. This new proposed rule would reverse that Trump-era change.

The big picture: The proposed rule looks to solidify protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity consistent with the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • HHS said in a press release that this proposed rule is part of the Biden administration's "commitment to advancing gender and health equity and civil rights."
  • The rule looks to strengthen section 1557 of the ACA, which specifically prohibits "discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability."
  • The rule also clarifies that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, or related conditions such as "pregnancy termination," is prohibited.

What they're saying: "Standing with communities in need is critical, particularly given increased attacks on women, trans youth, and health care providers. Health care should be a right not dependent on looks, location, love, language, or the type of care someone needs," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

What's next: Public comments on the proposed rule are due in 60 days.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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