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Proposed Rule Prohibits Healthcare Discrimination Against Transgender Patients

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHA) recently proposed a new rule that will extend certain legal protection under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to transgender patients. For instance, the proposed would prohibit blanket insurance policies that exclude gender transition care and would require that healthcare facilities treat patients consistent with their gender identities.

Section 1557 of the ACA extended civil rights protections banning sex discrimination to health programs and activities. Prior to the healthcare law, civil rights laws prohibited discrimination based only on race, color, national origin, disability, or age. The HHS rule proposal makes it clear that the prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity.

"This proposed rule is an important step to strengthen protections for people who have often been subject to discrimination in our healthcare system," HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a press statement.

As we have mentioned in our San Diego Injury Blog, transgender patients often face discrimination when seeking healthcare. In fact, a recent study revealed that about 42 percent of female-to-male transgender adults experienced verbal harassment, physical assault or denial of equal treatment in a doctor's office or hospital.

If approved, the rule would apply widely to a range of providers and insurers. It would specifically include all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid payments and all health plans that offer coverage through the ACA health insurance marketplaces.

In addition to prohibiting transgender discrimination, the proposed rule also includes additional protections for female patients and patients with disabilities. The rule makes it clear that women must be treated equally with men in the health care they receive from providers. In addition, it provides adiitional guidance regarding the ACA’s requirements regarding services for individuals who speak limited English as well as individuals with disabilities.

If you or someone you love has suffered from healthcare discrimination or medical negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.