US President Joe Biden’s administration said Monday it would restore anti-discrimination protections for transgender people in the health care system that were removed under Donald Trump.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it would strengthen a provision of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability.
Trump officials had sought to narrow the rule’s scope, but Biden officials are reintroducing language on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Everyone in America should be able to get the care that they need from any health provider in the country, especially if that provider is receiving funding from HHS,” Health Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters on a call.
“We want to make sure that Americans are free from discrimination when they try to access the care that they need.”
Transgender and gender non-conforming people face rampant discrimination in health care, according to advocacy groups, such as outright denial of care and harassment.
The rule also “makes clear that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or related conditions, including ‘pregnancy termination,'” a statement said.
Earlier this month, the HHS issued guidance to about 60,000 pharmacies across the country “reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws” as they are recipients of federal funds.
The guidance came amid reports that even in states where abortion remains legal, some pharmacies were refusing to fill prescriptions for drugs that could end pregnancies.
The new rule would also require entities to give staff training on providing language assistance services for those with limited English.
Becerra said that after an open comment period, he hoped the rule would take effect sometime next year.