On Friday (June 12) the Trump administration finalized a rule to roll back Obama-era non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people when it comes to health care and health insurance. The plan was released on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse massacre, when a gunman opened fire at an Orlando gay bar, killing 49 people.
The decision, which arrives amidst the national crises of COVID-19 and racial violence, changes Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to interpret sex discrimination based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology,” according to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama-era rule previously prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
LGBTQ+ advocates fear the policy shift could have significant ramifications that will make it easier for doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to deny care or coverage for trans and nonbinary patients. Critics of the rule also worry it could affect other people in need of reproductive health care, including women who have had abortions.
That same day, the Human Rights Campaign announced plans to file a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision.
“We cannot and will not allow Donald Trump to continue attacking us. Today, the Human Rights Campaign is announcing plans to sue the Trump administration for exceeding their legal authority and attempting to remove basic health care protections from vulnerable communities including LGBTQ people,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement. “LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care. LGBTQ people should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are.”