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Coalition fighting transgender discrimination in health coverage at federal level

This week the Human Rights Campaign and a coalition of other progressive and LGBTQ rights groups submitted 130,000 public comments against a proposed regulation that would strip protections for transgender patients in the Affordable Care Act.

In 2016 the federal Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule involving 1557 of the act — its non-discrimination provision. It broadened the definition of discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include termination of pregnancy and gender identity.

After lawsuits from several states and health care groups, a federal court enjoined the gender identity and termination of pregnancy provisions — and the legal and cultural battles over them has continued.  President Donal Trump’s administration is proposing stripping those provisions from the act.

“Everyone deserves access to care, and no one should be turned away because of who they are or whom they love,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement this week.. “The Trump-Pence administration’s proposal undermines crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people provided by the Affordable Care Act and puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. We oppose this proposal in the strongest terms.”

The Human Rights campaign points to studies showing  56 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by healthcare providers. This can include refusal of care, harsh language and physical roughness because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the group says.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey report, 23 percent of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person. Fifty-five percent of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied.

The National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center, and the Center for American Progress are also part of the coalition collecting comments from the public rejecting the proposed regulation.

In North Carolina, transgender state employees and dependents are facing their own health care crisis.

In March, a group of them filed a lawsuit over the state excluding treatment related to gender dysphoria and gender transition from the state health plan.

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