RELEASE: FOIA Data Obtained by CAP Shows Scope of Health Care Discrimination, Effectiveness of Rule Protecting LGBTQ Patients

Washington, D.C. – A new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows the range of health care discrimination faced by LGBTQ patients and the danger of rolling back regulations that prohibit discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity.

CAP reviewed 34 such complaints made from 2012 to 2016 that were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These data show that in approximately 30 percent of these complaints, patients alleged denial of care or insurance coverage simply because of their gender identity – not related to gender transition.

The forms of discrimination that dominate the complaints contradict a lawsuit brought by Franciscan Alliance. That group sought to block the rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act from going into effect because it claimed its doctors would be forced to provide gender transition-related medical care despite their religious objections.

“These data show LGBTQ people are refused health care ranging from treatment for common medical ailments to critical transition-related care simply because of who they are,” said Sharita Gruberg, associate director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project. “Under the rule implementing 1557, most of the subjects of these complaints worked with HHS to take voluntary corrective action to improve the care they provide to LGBTQ patients, avoiding costly litigation. These complaints show any attempts to undermine the rule will enable discrimination and harm people’s health and wellbeing.”

These findings come as the Department of Health and Human Services is creating a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that would defend health providers who refuse care to LGBT patients based on religious or moral objections. The agency also indicated in a recent court filing its intention to roll back nondiscrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act for LGBT people.

CAP’s analysis shows that health care providers most often discriminate against transgender people simply for being who they are, not because of the care they need. The most common complaints were of patients denied care due to their gender identity or transgender status. This includes a transgender woman denied a mammogram and a transgender man refused a screening for a urinary tract infection. In both cases, the denials were based on the gender identity of the patients.

Read the analysis: “The ACA’s Nondiscrimination Regulations Protect LGBTQ People from Discrimination and Help Avoid Costly Litigation,” by Sharita Gruberg and Frank J. Bewkes.

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For more information or to talk to an expert please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org, or 202-478-6327.