According to clarifications from the Department of Health and Human Services, the health care reform law’s provision banning sex discrimination also covers transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.
Basically, this means that any health care providers that receive federal funds cannot discriminate against or refuse care to someone who is trans*.
In his response, issued in July, HHS civil rights director Leon Rodriquez states, “We agree that [the health care law’s] sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and will accept such complaints for investigation.”
Among those welcoming the response is Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, one of the groups that made the inquiry. “We have always believed that sex discrimination laws protected transgender people,” she says. “We haven’t always gotten the courts to agree to that. And this is the first time HHS has said so.”
The 2010 law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, prohibits health care providers that receive federal funds, as nearly all of them do, from discriminating on any basis enumerated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws, including gender. The statement that this encompasses gender identity and expression “is an important clarification for all transgender people, who so often face extraordinary barriers in accessing health care,” says Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, another organization involved in the inquiry.
This is really incredibly important. Health care reform naysayers, take note of just how big a difference this will make.