May 13, 2016
TLDEF Applauds Nationwide Ban on Transgender Health Care Discrimination
New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) applauds new regulations prohibiting health care discrimination against transgender people across the United States. Adopted today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the protections ensure equal access for communities that have long been excluded from the health care system.
These regulations clarify that discrimination against transgender people in health care facilities is unlawful. They also prohibit the widespread insurance industry practice of unfairly excluding coverage for medically necessary transgender-related health care. This prohibition applies to public insurance plans, such as Medicaid, and private plans where the insurer receives financial assistance from HHS, such as by selling plans through the health insurance marketplaces.
These regulations were enacted to enforce the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination provision, known as Section 1557. HHS first proposed the regulations last September. In November, TLDEF submitted comments expressing support for the rules as a means to improve the health of transgender Americans.
Statement from TLDEF Staff Attorney Noah Lewis
“Transgender Americans have long suffered from a lack of access to care that most other people take for granted. These rules provide basic protections from discrimination and will go a long way toward improving the health of transgender Americans. We are thrilled they are now in force. As of today, health care facilities may no longer deny transgender people care because of who they are. And insurance companies may no longer deny coverage for care simply because the person who needs it is transgender. These regulations put doctors and insurance companies on notice that they must treat everyone fairly and equally. It is vital for transgender people to have equal access to medically necessary care, to be covered by insurance for that care, and to be treated with respect in medical settings.
“As we stated in our official comments to HHS, transgender people have long faced tremendous barriers to accessing care, which causes great harm to their health and well-being. Transgender-related health care is widely recognized as medically necessary by organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. The purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to ensure that all Americans have access to safe, affordable care. Under these new rules, transgender people will finally be able to reap the benefits of our nation’s health care law.
“We look forward to seeing these regulations fully implemented throughout the health care system to ensure health care equality for transgender Americans. Transgender people need to know that they can report discriminatory treatment to HHS, and that their complaints will be taken seriously.”