White House close to finalizing removal of LGBTQ medical protections

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Health Department is close to finalizing the repeal of Obama era rules that barred discrimination based on orientation or gender identity.

Politico reported on Friday that the Trump administration’s final rule was circulated at the Justice Department on Thursday, a step toward publicly releasing the regulation in the coming days. The White House on Friday morning also updated a regulatory dashboard to indicate that the rule was under review. 

The administration started on changing the rules back in November 2019.

The rule change means that the HHS will no longer enforce rules barring anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

“If the final rule is anything like the proposed rule, HHS is adopting changes that would be harmful in the best of times but that are especially cruel in the midst of a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities and exacerbating disparities,” Katie Keith, a lawyer and Georgetown professor who’s tracked the rule, told Politico.

A survey by the Center for American Progress found that one in four LGBTQ Americans had experienced discrimination in the past year and eight percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual and 29 percent of transgender adults reported that a health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ people who experienced any form of discrimination were nearly seven times more likely to report avoiding a visit to a doctor’s office to avoid discrimination. 

The study also found that an estimated 65 percent of LGBTQ adults have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, or HIV, putting them at more risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Politico noted that the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ workers.

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