STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden on ACA Final Rule Protecting LGBT Americans From Discrimination in Health Care and Insurance Coverage
Center for American Progress, Lambda Legal, and American Civil Liberties Union Experts, as Well as a Victim of Health Care Discrimination, Will Host a Press Call at 1:00 p.m. ET to Discuss the New Rule
Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule codifying broad nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people in health facilities, programs, and activities receiving federal funding. The rule clarifies that the sex nondiscrimination protections of Affordable Care Act, or ACA, Section 1557 protect access to health insurance coverage and health care for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or nonconformity with sex stereotypes, including being LGBT.
Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden issued the following statement on the release of the final 1557 rule:
We applaud the Department of Health and Human Services on the release of the final rule on Affordable Care Act Section 1557. This rule is a critical step forward in expanding access to health care for millions of people; reducing health disparities; and clarifying the scope of Section 1557’s protections, including vital protections from discrimination in health insurance coverage and health care on the basis of sex. In particular, the rule confirms that LGBT individuals are protected from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or nonconformity with sex stereotypes, including identification as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. These protections are especially critical in the current moment, when states such as North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee are enacting laws condoning or even encouraging discrimination against LGBT people and their families.
This rule is critical to address the barriers to coverage and care that LGBT people across the country routinely experience, such as insurance plan exclusions that target transgender people for denials of coverage for medically necessary health care services related to gender transition or health care providers using harsh or abusive language against LGBT patients, blaming patients for their health status, being physically rough or abusive, or refusing care outright.
The ACA is already making a difference in ensuring that LGBT Americans have access to quality, affordable coverage. As CAP’s report “Moving the Needle: The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on LGBT Communities” shows, for example, over the first full year of the ACA’s coverage expansion, uninsurance among low- and middle-income LGBT adults dropped by one-quarter, from one in three—34 percent—uninsured in 2013 to one in four—26 percent—uninsured in 2014. The Section 1557 rule is critical to address the remaining barriers to coverage and care that LGBT people across the country routinely experience.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights is currently accepting complaints of sex discrimination from LGBT individuals. Future agency guidance that follows the lead of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in expressly clarifying that all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation are inherently sex-based and unlawful will be helpful in fully addressing the severe and ongoing problem of anti-LGBT discrimination in health care settings. Such guidance will help ensure that Section 1557’s protections are strong and clear for everyone who needs them.
Press call details
Friday, May 13, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. ET
Conference ID: 6825048
Call-in number: 888.401.4669
Laura E. Durso, Senior Director of the LGBT Research and Communication Project, CAP
Kellan Baker, Senior Fellow with the LGBT Research and Communications Project, CAP
Jennifer C. Pizer, Senior Counsel and Law and Policy Project National Director, Lambda Legal
Josh Block, Senior Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project
Jay Kallio, A victim of health care discrimination