The Boston LGBT health org Fenway Institute has released “What the new Affordable Care Act nondiscrimination rule means for providers & LGBT patients” a policy brief outlining the significant impact a new rule of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is expected to have on the ability of transgender people to access health care. Tim Wang, MPH, LGBT Health Policy Analyst at the Fenway Institute & lead author of the report stated, “Numerous studies have shown that transgender people frequently face discriminatory treatment in health care facilities, including being subjected to rough or abusive treatment from providers, being blamed for their health conditions, or being denied service altogether. The Section 1557 rule will be essential for addressing this widespread discrimination against transgender people not just in health care but also in discrimination in insurance coverage. One critical component of the new rule is that it expressly prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for medically necessary services related to gender transition if those services are covered for people who are not transgender.” Stephen L. Boswell, MD, FACP, President & CEO of Fenway Health concluded, “This new rule comes at a critical time when strong federal leadership to defend & advance equitable access to affirming health care for LGBT people is needed. In 2016 alone, nearly 200 restrictive bills targeting the LGBT community in terms of access to healthcare & access to public spaces such as bathrooms have been filed in 32 states & have passed and been signed into law in Indiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee & North Carolina. As federal law, the Section 1557 rule would override elements of these discriminatory anti-LGBT state laws.”
Implementation of the new Section 1557 rule, issued by OCR in May 2016 began on July 18th. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in health care facilities and programs receiving federal funding. The new rule also explicitly protects people who are non-binary or intersex.
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