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Biden Strengthens Protections for LGBTQ Health Care

May 11, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck
FILE - In this Sunday, June 11, 2017 file photo, Equality March for Unity and Pride participants march past the White House in Washington. The Biden administration says the government will protect gay and transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. That reverses a Trump-era policy that sought to narrow the scope of legal rights in sensitive situations involving medical care. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Monday that LGBTQ people should have the same access to health care as everyone else. T(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Biden Administration announced Monday it will interpret federal non-discrimination provisions as protecting the LGBTQ community against discrimination in health care.  

The move, which was announced through the Department of Health and Human Services, means the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone, including LGBTQ people,  should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period,” said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a written statement.

The administration’s decision reverses a Trump-era policy that eliminated explicit protections from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity, thereby sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people, such as allowing for insurance policies and health care regulated under the Affordable Care Act to deny services to transgender people.

The move also restored an Obama-era policy which applied protections to transgender and gay people under the Affordable Care Act. 

According to a recent Gallup survey, nearly 5.6% of the population currently identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the US Department of Health and Human Services said that currently 25 percent of LGBTQ people who have faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving necessary medical care because they feared further discrimination. 

Studies show that 56% of LGB people and 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by health care providers, including refusal of care, harsh language and physical roughness because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 23% of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person and 55% of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied.  

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