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Federal judge blocks LGBTQ+ health care coverage

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Brief description of the dive:

  • Biden Administration Can’t Enforce New HHS anti-discrimination policies for transgender patientsMississippi a federal judge ruled last week.
  • The nationwide lockdown came two days before the policy was due to go into effect on July 5. The rules were intended to restore Obama Era Protectionprohibiting healthcare providers and insurers that receive federal funds from discriminating against patients based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Courts have previously invalidated or restricted healthcare coverage for transgender patients, according to Rob Bradner, a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight. But the latest The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States overturn decades of Chevron doctrine could make it easier for conservative courts to justify such decisions by lowering the bar for invalidating federal agency guidelines. The decision offers “(judges) more cover to do something they wanted to do anyway,” Bradner said.

Diving Insight:

Transgender access to health care has been a subject of litigation over the past three presidential terms, Obama, trump card The Biden administration has offered interpretations of how civil rights law could apply to LGBTQ+ health care, which have only been met with lawsuits from those with opposing ideologies.

In April, the Biden administration tried to justify its new rules Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination in treatment and insurance coverage based on race, ethnicity, age, disability, or sex — a legal theory favored by the Obama administration.

The administration argued that after-Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia — A 2020 Supreme Court ruling that found employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. — “Sex” also includes gender identity in other federal anti-discrimination cases.

But a group of Republican state attorneys general challenged that framework, filing a lawsuit against HHS in May to argue that the federal agency had exceeded by issuing regulations.

The plaintiffs said federal courts had previously rejected President Barack Obama’s efforts to expand Section 1557 to cover gender identity, and they further argued that the Bostock court’s justices had expressly declined to take a position on how sex might be defined in other areas of anti-discrimination law, including health care.

US District Judge Louis Guirolaan appointee of President George W. Bush, agreed, ruling that HHS “likely exceeded its statutory authority” by applying Bostock to the new rules, while citing the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down the Chevron doctrine.

“Specifically, the Bostock ruling did not ‘extend beyond Title VII to encompass other federal or state laws that prohibit sex discrimination,’” the judge wrote.

Guirola prevented the regulations from taking effect while the lawsuit was pending.

“And to the extent that Congress and the executive branch may disagree with the way the courts have done their job in a particular case, of course they always have the discretion to act by changing the statute,” Guirola added.

Amanda Hill, owner and founder of Hill Law Group, advised that providers join in lobbying efforts for the policies they consider most important so that “not rely on others to interpret the laws to their advantage, but actually start changing the laws from scratch.”

Bradner, however, is not optimistic that Congress – which recently one of the least productive in history — can easily solve the issue of protecting transgender people.

“The problem with Congress is that it has not guarded its authority jealously over the last few decades,” Bradner said, noting that sharp partisan divisions and extreme deference to the president have weakened the body. “You’ve seen them legislate less strongly on difficult issues in recent years. I’ll give you an example: the No Surprises Act.”

While the lawsuit works its way through the courts, the ban will apply nationwide, allowing states to pass a range of laws that restrict transgender people’s access to health care. Already, at least 25 states have laws restricting gender-affirming care for example, for minors, according to data from the Human Rights Campaign.

Bradner said that in the absence of nationwide protections for access to health care, the U.S. health care system is at risk of “reverting” to a situation in which the quality of health care varies not because of the health care system patients use, but because of the state in which they live.

“The large healthcare system will have to adapt to this – as will our medical schools,” Bradner said. “We’re already seeing people opting to go into residency programs in some states.”

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority may soon offer some national guidance. The high court will hear a case this year that challenges Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors.