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LGBTQ+ Americans could lose health discrimination protections under Trump administration proposal

Posted: 9:45 PM, Aug 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-09 00:50:32-04
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DENVER -- The Trump administration wants to rollback Obama-era protections for LGBTQ+ patients.

The revision would allow doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny even basic care based on gender identity.

“Finding competent providers is hard enough as it is, finding providers that aren’t going to discriminate against folks within the trans community because of how we identify and who we are is hard," Anaya Roberts with the Transformative Freedom Fund said.

The protections are just a few paragraphs in the Affordable Care Act, but have made a huge difference in health care for the LGBTQ+ community by helping them get insured, receive affordable HIV treatment and protect them from outright denial of care.

But those protections could soon be erased.

Anaya Robinson was lucky during his transition to have referrals to experienced doctors. But because being trans is often met with discrimination, every procedure was filled with anxiety.

“The front office staff is sometimes a little hard to hang out with in some spaces," Robinson said. "Every time I have to go to the doctor and be in that space my blood pressure is skyrocketed and then it’s a question of, do I actually have high blood pressure or am I just feeling a lot of anxiety right now?”

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act protects LGBTQ+ individuals from this kind of discrimination in health care. But the proposal would create further confusion over federal and state law.

The Trump administration says these changes to the law are about conforming to a recent court ruling. But advocates say lives are at risk.

“Forty-one percent of trans folks attempt to commit suicide. When we have numbers that high, folks within our community are going to find anyway we can to access what we need to be ourselves so that they don't have to get to that space," Robinson said.

The proposal to rollback the anti-discrimination language in the law is not just about services like hormones or HIV medication. If this revision becomes law, doctors will be able to legally deny even routine care to LGBTQ+ patients.

“It is really like somebody walking into a doctor's office and saying, 'I have a cold' and somebody in that doctors office saying, 'Because of the way you identify, we are not treating you,” he said.

The proposal is expected to play out in the courts.

This section of the Affordable Care Act also impacts protections for women who have abortions and would no longer require that patients receive medical information in their native language.

You can weigh on this proposal by clicking on this link to get connected to the Department of Health and Human Services comment section. Or you can make your voice heard by submitting a form to DHHS through ProtectTransHealth.org.