Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said that the change would eliminate language put in place as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) that defined “sex” to include gender identity.
‘When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” Severino said in a statement. “We have concluded in our most recent filing with the court that discrimination on the basis of sex does not cover gender identity.”
The rule is currently on hold as a result of two lawsuits filed by the governors of Republican-led states. HHS’ proposed change would align with those court rulings by permanently eliminating gender identity as a protected class in the health law.
The Trump administration had refused to defend the 2016 rule in those lawsuits, and Friday’s announcement was expected.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT rights advocate, said that the rollback would put LGBT people “at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care.”
“The Trump-Pence administration’s latest attack threatens to undermine crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people provided for under the Affordable Care Act,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement. “The administration puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”