Submitted by the Washington State Officer of the Insurance Commissioner
The Trump administration has announced its final rule rolling back health care protections for transgender patients and overturning other consumer protections put in place by the Obama administration.
The Obama administration included transgender patient protections as part of a rule enforcing a section of the Affordable Care Act that bans discrimination in health care based on sex, race, color, national origin, age or disability.
Trump’s rule overturns these protections as well as the requirement that health insurers provide consumer protection information on key health care documents for limited-English speakers. It also narrows the type of health plans that must comply with the ACA’s nondiscrimination standards.
“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, with cases rising across the country. Instead of expanding access to care to everyone who needs it, this president is once again attacking the most vulnerable among us,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “The Supreme Court just issued a ruling that protects transgender people from discrimination in the workplace. They also should not be denied access to health care. The administration’s decision to release this regulation targeting transgender patients during Pride month and on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting illustrates exactly how it feels about the rights of transgender people in America.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the inequities in our health care system, with higher rates of infection and death among communities of color. This is not the time to be weakening policies that help limited-English speakers access needed care. Nor is it a time to pull back on the obligations of health insurers to protect their enrollees from discrimination of any kind.”
Kreidler added, “Washington state will now step in to protect the people of our state where President Trump has failed, again.”
“Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Nicole Macri, Washington state is able to maintain health insurance protections for transgender patients.”
Substitute House Bill 2338 took effect on June 11 and prohibits discrimination by health insurers based upon race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The new law applies to all state-regulated health plans.
Kreidler will issue an emergency rule to implement the new law, preserving many of the rights the Trump administration is overturning.
“This rule is a direct and reprehensible attack on transgender people that undermines the promise of equal access to health care for all Americans. It stands in stark contrast to today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing that anti-discrimination laws clearly extend to LGBTQ Americans,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “The Trump administration’s cruelty will not stand in Washington. I am grateful for Commissioner Kreidler’s leadership in preserving these critical protections for Washingtonians and ensuring no patients face barriers to medical care because of who they are.”
This is the latest discriminatory action the Trump administration has taken against transgender individuals. He has rolled back provisions related to transgender individuals serving in the military, as well as protections for transgender students.
In 2014, Kreidler called on all health insurers in Washington state to treat all transgender people fairly and cover their needs on par with cisgender people.
“The president was elected to represent all Americans,” Kreidler said. “This dangerous policy will harm millions of transgender people in our country who already face higher rates of violence, homelessness, unemployment, lack of medical care and suicide rates than cisgender people. Washington state has a long-standing reputation of protecting the health and lives of all its residents, regardless of gender or gender identity and that reputation stands.”