Washington D.C., May 10, 2021 / 10:00 am
The Biden administration on Monday announced it would interpret and enforce existing law to ensure people identifying as LGBTQ were not denied access to health care.
“It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people - should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), on Monday.
The law in question, Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, prohibits sex-based discrimination in health care. The Obama administration interpreted it to include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This was the basis of the administration’s “transgender mandate,” ruling that people could not be denied gender-transition surgeries upon the referral of a mental health professional.
The administration did not exempt doctors who were opposed to providing the surgeries, for medical or conscience reasons.
Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, which is fighting the mandate in court, said the administration’s announcement on Monday “will punish doctors and hospitals if they won't perform harmful gender-transition procedures against their conscience and medical judgment.”
“This is bad for patients, doctors, and religious liberty,” Goodrich stated.
Catholic hospitals and health care groups sued over the transgender mandate, and two federal district judges have put an injunction on the mandate going into effect. A federal circuit court has also instructed one of the district courts to consider whether the hospitals opposed to the mandate should receive permanent relief.
“The plaintiffs in the case are religious doctors, hospitals, and clinics who joyfully serve ALL patients regardless of sex or gender identity,” Goodrich stated. “Yet the Biden Administration is fighting them in court--and threatening multi-million dollar penalties that jeopardize the millions of dollars in free and low-cost care they give to elderly, poor, and underserved rural areas.”