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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Regulation would allows medical providers to deny care to LGBTQs, groups respond
From press releases
2019-05-02

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From The Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a final version of a regulation that would allow medical providers to cite their personal beliefs in refusing to provide a broad spectrum of services — including lifesaving care for LGBTQ patients. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has responded with a statement to the Trump-Pence administration's latest attempt to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people and their families.

"The Trump-Pence administration's latest attack threatens LGBTQ people by permitting medical providers to deny critical care based on personal beliefs," said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. "The administration's decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love."

HHS announced today the issuance of the final rule that will sanction discrimination by healthcare providers who believe their personal beliefs should determine the care a patient receives. The rule could allow virtually any individual or entity involved in a patient's care — from a hospital's board of directors to the receptionist that schedules procedures — to put personal beliefs ahead of a patient's health. This regulation will undoubtedly empower health care providers to deny necessary care to LGBTQ people and women.

This regulation will deter health care organizations and providers from taking necessary action to guarantee that all patients have access to the care they not only deserve but also are legally entitled to. In practice, the broad reach of the rule could allow health care providers to refuse to provide not only abortion and sterilization procedures, but also to deny treatment or preventative care for AIDS or HIV, hormone therapy treatment and transition related care and in-vitro fertilization for lesbians, single women or interfaith couples. The rule is especially dangerous for those already facing barriers to care, particularly LGBTQ patients, patients of color and those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Fear of discrimination causes many LGBTQ people to avoid seeking health care, and when they do enter care, studies indicate that LGBTQ people are not consistently treated with the respect that all patients deserve. Studies show that 56% of LGB people and 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by health care providers — including refusal of care, harsh language and physical roughness because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 23% of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person and a startling 55% of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied. Delay and avoidance of care due to fear of discrimination compounds the significant health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people.

From Equality California:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday a final rule empowering healthcare workers to refuse care to patients based on the workers' own personal religious beliefs. Equality California, the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Zbur:

"For two years, the Trump-Pence Administration has relentlessly attacked LGBTQ people — including transgender servicemembers, children and workers. But today's attack is one of their most heartless and dangerous yet. President Trump just stood in front of the White House and told millions of LGBTQ Americans that they should be denied lifesaving healthcare simply because of who they are or whom they love. That is immoral; it is heartless; it is un-American. Someone else's personal beliefs should never be used as a license to discriminate. Period."

On March 18, 2018, Equality California submitted public comment opposing the regulation empowering healthcare workers to deny care on the basis of their own personal beliefs, which at the time was just a proposed rule. This regulation will have a disproportionately harmful impact on LGBTQ Americans — especially transgender people, LGBTQ older people and LGBTQ people living in rural areas, who already face significant disparities in health and wellbeing and are most vulnerable to discrimination.

From The Williams Institute:

HHS final conscience rule expands religious providers' authority to deny health care

Jocelyn Samuels, former director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, available for comment

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released today a final rule that strengthens the ability of health care workers to refuse to provide health services for religious or moral reasons.

Williams Institute Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels, the former Director of OCR, said, "In the Obama administration, we were focused on expanding access to health care through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the full and balanced enforcement of anti-discrimination and provider conscience laws. By contrast, this administration is simultaneously trying to restrict universal access to care through attacks on the ACA and expand the authorization for denials of care by religious providers. These actions stand to undermine the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities, including LGBT people."

From National Center for Lesbian Rights:

(Washington, DC) Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the final version of a rule that expands the ability of health care providers and institutions to refuse to provide particular types of healthcare based on their religious or moral beliefs. The new rule also creates new administrative mechanisms to implement and enforce these expanded exemptions.

The following is a statement by Julianna S. Gonen, Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR):

"This rule does not just implement existing federal conscience protections for healthcare providers, it dramatically expands them in ways that will lead to dangerous denials of reproductive health care, and put vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ people, at risk of increased discrimination. We've seen firsthand, through our Legal Help Line and our Rural Pride campaign, that health care discrimination against LGBTQ people is already pervasive and causes serious harm to individuals and families. In many communities in this country, LGBTQ people routinely face open hostility and outright denials of care from doctors, hospitals, therapists, and other health care providers. Rather than addressing this serious problem, HHS issued a rule that will make it worse."

From the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

(Washington, DC, May 2, 2019) — "Everyone deserves healthcare, especially the most marginalized who face barriers to access. Turning anyone away from health services is immoral. Despite their claims, the Trump administration's rule will harm LGBTQ people. Discrimination is insidious, sometimes guised as religion, which is why the National LGBTQ Task Force is working for full legal protections," said Rea Carey, Executive Director.

"The final conscience rule issued today by HHS allows virtually any individual or entity involved in a patient's care to put personal beliefs ahead of a patient's health," said Naomi Washington-Leapheart, M.Div., Faith Work Director. "As a religious leader, I am outraged that conscience is being used as an instrument of discrimination. Denying care is not an act of faithfulness — it is an attempt to keep access, agency, and wellbeing from those who are most vulnerable, including women, LGBTQ people, and poor people. Providing healthcare and protecting freedom of conscience are not competing values; and, compelled by my faith, I am committed to working to ensure that all people have the right to receive compassionate and comprehensive care every time they need it."


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