Media Advisory: Trump Administration to Reconsider Healthcare Protections for Transgender People

Media Advisory:
May 3, 2017

Media Contact:
Noel Alumit, alumit@law.ucla.edu
Office: 310-794-2332

Trump Administration to Reconsider Healthcare Protections for Transgender People

Transgender Individuals Face Substantial Health Disparities and Discrimination that Federal Regulations Aim to Reduce

Los Angeles – In a court filing by the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday, the Trump Administration indicated that it plans to reconsider regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that prohibit discrimination in healthcare, which could adversely impact the 1.55 million individuals who identify as transgender in the U.S.  The regulations, which implement the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination provision (Section 1557), prohibit gender identity discrimination as well as discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes in health programs or activities that receive HHS funding or are administered by HHS, and in health insurance plans.  The Williams Institute, an academic research center at UCLA that studies sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy, is providing this media advisory to assist in reporting on this story, and any future actions HHS takes with respect to the non-discrimination regulations.  Williams Institute scholars are available for comment.

“HHS’s non-discrimination regulations under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act were created after substantial public comment and deliberation, and seek to reduce the discrimination and health disparities that transgender people face,” said Adam P. Romero, Williams Institute’s Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy. According to yesterday’s court filing from the Trump Administration, “New leadership at HHS has now had time to scrutinize the two aspects of the Rule at issue in this case [the prohibition of gender identity discrimination and the absence of a special religious exemption in the regulations] and has concerns as to the need for, reasonableness, and burden imposed by those parts of the Rule.”

Transgender people have experienced persistent and pervasive discrimination in access to healthcare and by healthcare providers, which contributes to health disparities for this population:

  • In a recent study, transgender individuals had a higher prevalence of poor general health, more days per month of poor physical and mental health, and a higher prevalence of myocardial infarction.
  • Yet, the same study found that more transgender than cisgender people lacked health care coverage and a health care provider.
  • According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), one-third (33 percent) of those who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender.
  • In the year prior to the USTS, 23 percent of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person.
  • One quarter of USTS respondents experienced a problem in the past year with their insurance related to being transgender, such as being denied coverage for care related to gender transition or being denied coverage for routine care because they were transgender.