WASHINGTON — On Monday, a coalition of LGBTQ organizations and clinics filed a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s removal of LGBTQ healthcare protections.
The coalition is challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recently published health care discrimination rule that purports to carve out LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations from the protections of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, among other bases.
The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of Whitman-Walker Health, the TransLatin@ Coalition and its members (including leaders of affiliated organizations like Arianna’s Center in Florida), Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, AGLP: The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists, and four individual doctors.
While not the first lawsuit, it has the largest coalition to file a suit.
“While HHS’s health care discrimination rule cannot change the law, it creates chaos and confusion where there was once clarity about the right of everyone in our communities, and specifically transgender people, to receive health care free of discrimination,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney and health care strategist for Lambda Legal, in an announcement. “Today, Lambda Legal, a broad coalition of LGBTQ groups, and the people our clients serve say ‘enough’ to the incessant attacks from the very agency charged with protecting their health and well-being.”
Gonzalez-Pagan said that the administration has been using the HHS as a weapon to target vulnerable communities who already experience much higher rates of discrimination when seeking care.
“This rule is antithetical to Whitman-Walker’s core values,” said Naseema Shafi, CEO of Whitman-Walker Health. “Health care systems should be safe places for everyone to seek care; where people’s identities are affirmed, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, national origin, or other characteristics.”
In 2016, the Obama administration finalized a rule implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status, or sex stereotypes as forms of sex discrimination. In May 2019, the Trump administration announced a proposed rule change designed to roll back these protections. The rule was finalized last week. It goes into effect in August.
The lawsuit, Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, can be read here.