GLAD Lawsuit Tests Trump’s Reversal of Healthcare Protections for Trans People Under ACA
June 12, 2020
“The Trump administration’s new interpretation of Section 1557 contradicts the Affordable Care Act, is dangerous to transgender people, and won’t survive federal challenge,” said GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. GLAD is currently in federal court challenging the denial of healthcare to a transgender man under the ACA’s non-discrimination statute referred to as Section 1557.
Pangborn v. Ascend, a federal lawsuit brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of a transgender man denied coverage for gender affirming care, will test the legitimacy of the Trump administration’s reversal of an HHS rule that had previously made clear that transgender people are covered under the ACA’s non-discrimination provision known as Section 1557. The case alleges, among other claims, that Alexander Pangborn’s employer violated the ACA by categorically excluding insurance coverage for transgender people’s medical needs relating to gender transition.
Section 1557 of the ACA bars discrimination in healthcare access and insurance on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin, age, and disability. The Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule today formalizing the Trump administration’s claim that Section 1557 does not protect transgender people from discrimination in health care, reversing HHS’s prior interpretation of the law.
“The Trump administration’s new 1557 rule contradicts the statute. It’s contrary to established case law, dangerous to transgender people, and can’t survive legal challenge,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director. “Unfortunately, the new rule is likely to confuse healthcare practitioners, insurers, and employers, and invites providers to turn away transgender people when seeking basic medical care. This is yet another callous policy coming from an administration intent on appeasing the far right and ignoring sound legal and medical policies.”
“Alexander Pangborn is a hospice nurse who provides compassionate care every day to his patients and their families, yet he was denied access to the health care he himself needs,” said Chris Erchull, GLAD Staff Attorney representing Pangborn. “The purpose of the ACA is to ensure Americans have access to healthcare. The purpose and the legal meaning of the nondiscrimination protections in Section 1557 are to ensure that individuals like Alexander are not denied care because of anti-transgender prejudice or other bias. The Trump administration’s repudiation of those protections is both cruel and unjust. It will not hold up in court.”