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Trump Administration OKs Health Care Discrimination As COVID Crisis Worsens

The Trump Administration finalized guidance today related to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Health Care Rights Law. This new interpretation eliminates current ACA protections against discrimination based on sex, gender identity, or pregnancy status, and removes requirements to provide translated materials to patients with limited English proficiency, among other changes.

In response to the this decision, Erin Hemlin, Health Policy and Advocacy Director for Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:

“It is abhorrent that during the worst public health crisis in a generation this administration would still promote discrimination in health care. By finalizing this rule, the administration is greenlighting health care providers and insurance companies to deny medical treatment for patients simply because of who they are.

Long before COVID, we already knew that our health care system was riddled with racial and ethnic inequities, and this pandemic has shown us those disparities even more clearly. Policies like this will only worsen those disparities among communities of color, queer and non-binary people, and those who are non-native English speakers.

In unbelievable cruelty, this decision was announced on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse shooting, where 49 people, primarily LGBTQ people of color, were brutally murdered.

Young people identify as trans or non-cisgender at twice the rate as older adults. All people — especially young, non-binary and trans people of color who are already so often exposed to harmful discrimination in health care — deserve dignity and respect. Young people overwhelmingly view access to health care as a right and know that there is no place for discrimination. We won’t stand for it.”

Under the Obama Administration, HHS clarified that the protections under Section 1557 barred discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in accessing health care services and health coverage.