The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has confirmed that health care providers throughout the United States are obligated to provide transgender people with transition-affirmative health care.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act which is enforced by the Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities Rule ensures that discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded health programs is prohibited, including discrimination based on gender identity.
In short discrimination against one’s sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, disability, or age is also prohibited.
HHS as also assured that transgender Americans cannot be denied “health services related to gender transition” by health care providers that receive federal funding of any description.
Despite the HHS not specifically outlining the services required, HHS state, “the range of transition-related services, which includes treatment for gender dysphoria, is not limited to surgical treatments and may include, but is not limited to, services such as hormone therapy and psychotherapy, which may occur over the lifetime of the individual. We believe the flexibility of the general language in the final rule best serves transgender individuals and covered entities.”
HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell explains “A central goal of the Affordable Care Act is to help all Americans access quality, affordable health care,”
“Today’s announcement is a key step toward realizing equity within our health care system and reaffirms this Administration’s commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve.”
LGBTI rights groups have since praised the rule, with Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin saying, “Access to healthcare should never be denied because of your sexual orientation or gender identity,”
“LGBT people have too often faced healthcare systems that provide inequitable and hostile treatment. This new and important regulation will address many of these disparities and is critical to help end discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming people in healthcare and insurance.”
Since the confirmation from the HHS, the Obama administration has taken further steps to promote civil rights for transgender people, with the federal government announcing that it intends to sue North Carolina over the infamous HB 2 legislation.