One of the country's leading queer advocacy groups is suing the Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for enabling discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.
Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging HHS this Monday, June 22, on behalf of a handful of queer advocacy groups and four individual doctors. The lawsuit, Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, argues that the agency's decision to roll back nondiscrimination protections for queer and transgender patients under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) endangers an already-vulnerable community that has been repeatedly targeted by the current administration.
"A person’s access to health care should not be contingent on their sex, gender
identity, transgender status, sexual orientation, race, national origin, age, disability, or religion," the complaint reads in part. "Yet, in the midst of a global pandemic, the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services ('HHS') has sought to diminish protections from discrimination in health care because of a person’s sex, gender identity, transgender status, sexual orientation, race, national origin, age, or disability."
As MTV News recently reported, HHS finalized its plan to gut protections for LGBTQ Americans under Section 1557 of the ACA, a landmark provision guaranteeing protection from "sex discrimination" that was enacted under President Barack Obama. The decision was publicized on Friday, June 12, four years to the date since the devastating mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub. It will go into effect August 18, 2020.
Meanwhile, studies have repeatedly shown that transgender Americans in particular avoid getting medical treatment due to fear of discrimination in health-care settings.
In a media statement, Lambda Legal senior attorney and health-care strategist Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said HHS's new ruling "creates chaos and confusion where there was once clarity about the right of everyone in our communities, and specifically transgender people, to receive health care free of discrimination":
Today, Lambda Legal, a broad coalition of LGBTQ groups, and the people our clients serve say ‘enough’ to the incessant attacks from the very agency charged with protecting their health and well-being. For years, the Trump administration has utilized HHS as a weapon to target and hurt vulnerable communities who already experience alarming rates of discrimination when seeking care, even now, during a global pandemic. Their actions are wrong, callous, immoral and legally indefensible. We will fight back.
HRC also announced its plan to sue HHS earlier this month.
View Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS in full here.