Biden: 'Unconscionable' for Trump to roll back LGBTQ protections

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll GOP set to release controversial Biden report Can Donald Trump maintain new momentum until this November? MORE on Friday slammed the Trump administration’s decision to roll back LGBTQ protections in the Affordable Care Act, calling the move “unconscionable.”

“This action is unconscionable — and to do so during Pride Month, on the fourth anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub that claimed 49 lives, many of them members of the LGBTQ+ community, is despicable,” the presumptive Democratic nominee said in a statement.

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Biden accused Trump of being “more consumed with destroying the legacy of the Obama-Biden Administration than protecting the health care of millions of Americans.”

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday released a final rule scrapping ObamaCare’s nondiscrimination protections for sex and gender identity. 

The previous administration’s rule made it illegal for doctors, hospitals and other health care workers to deny care to someone whose sexual orientation or gender identity they disapproved of by expanding the law’s definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity for the first time.

The new policy establishes the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination to be based on "the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology."

Advocates and health groups said the policy will make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender and nonbinary patients as well as women who have had abortions.

A federal judge blocked the Obama administration’s expansions in 2016, and Trump officials have worked to weaken the rules before they could take effect.

Democrats blasted the Trump administration for announcing the finalized rule during Pride Month and on the fourth anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where 49 people were killed and dozens more wounded.

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The measure also comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with advocates saying LGBTQ people could be denied critical health care coverage under the provision.

Religious providers have long anticipated the new rule, arguing the administration should reinforce their right to not provide treatment they say is against their beliefs.

HHS said the new policy makes clear that "the substantive protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex remain in effect."