Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health

Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health
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Democrats are warning the Trump administration not to move forward with a proposed rule that would undo an ObamaCare provision that prohibits health care discrimination based on sex.

In a letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 125 House Democrats urged the administration to withdraw a proposal they said would give doctors, insurers, hospitals and others a license to discriminate against transgender patients.

“The proposed rule would dramatically undermine Congressional intent by inviting widespread discrimination, including by allowing … healthcare providers and entities to deny patients care because of who they are, what language they speak, their sexual orientation or gender identity, or the color of their skin,” the Democrats, led by Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeDeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Lawmakers mourn death of 'Julia' star Diahann Carroll MORE (D-Calif.) wrote.

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A similar letter was sent by Senate Health Committee ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (D-Wash.) and 35 other Senate Democrats.

“In advancing policies that not only allow discrimination – but in fact endorse it – HHS is abdicating its responsibility to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” the letter stated. 

"As is abundantly clear from the legislative history of the ACA, the goal of the law was to eliminate discrimination; yet, the proposed rule does the opposite," the Senate Democrats wrote. 

Comments on the proposed rule, which was first announced in May, were due Tuesday. At the close of the comment period, HHS reported well over 100,000 comments, with tens of thousands more that had yet to be counted.

The proposed regulation scraps ObamaCare's definition of "sex discrimination" to remove protections for gender identity. 

That provision said patients cannot be turned away because they are transgender, nor can they be denied coverage if they need a service that’s related to their transgender status. 

The move was sought by conservative Christians, who said religious providers have a right not to provide treatment that is against their beliefs. 

Dozens of health groups, including hospitals and insurers, also told the administration that the rule would harm patients.

“The proposed rule’s blanket elimination of protections of individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation or based on sex stereotypes is not consistent with hospitals and health systems’ longstanding commitment to serve their communities,” the American Hospital Association wrote. 

“Removing references in the rule to discrimination based on gender identity, sex stereotyping, and pregnancy status is inconsistent with providing access to affordable high-quality care to everyone,” America’s Health Insurance Plans said. “Those changes should not be finalized.”