The Trump administration announced Friday that it was finalizing the elimination of an Obama-era regulation prohibiting health care discrimination against certain LGBT individuals.
In 2016, the Obama administration extended protections under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which "prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities." The updated rule redefined sex discrimination to include gender identity — defining that as "one's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female" — and pregnancy termination, or abortion.
In a statement on Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services said the Obama administration's change "exceeded the scope of the authority delegated by Congress in Section 1557."
"HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government's interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology," the HHS said.
The move will also save consumers billions of dollars.
From the HHS:
The final rule will also relieve the American people of approximately $2.9 billion in unnecessary regulatory burdens over five years from eliminating the mandate for regulated entities to send patients and customers excessive "notice and taglines" inserts in 15 or more foreign languages in almost every health care mailing, costs that get passed down to patients and consumers.
These expensive notices have not generally proven effective at accomplishing their purpose of providing meaningful language access to healthcare.
In response, top Democratic leaders attacked President Donald Trump, noting the finalization of the regulation change came during Pride Month, the month-long celebration of LGBT people.
"On the fourth anniversary of Pulse. In the middle of Pride month. During a global pandemic. Donald Trump's cruelty truly knows no bounds. We have to defeat him this November," Biden said.
"It is outrageous that Trump, in the middle of a pandemic, is working to prevent LGBTQ+ Americans from getting health care they need. Discrimination of any kind has no place in our society. We must defeat Trump, guarantee health care as a right and protect all LGBTQ+ Americans," Sanders said.
"In the middle of a pandemic, the President wants to strip away health care & risk LGBTQ+ Americans' lives to pander to right-wing ideologues. This is hateful & wrong. Trump must protect LGBTQ+ rights, and if he won't, the Senate must act," Warren said.
"Our nation is in the midst of a health and economic crisis of staggering proportions. The Administration's shameful rule is an attack on the health care of women, communities of color, seniors, the disabled and the LGBTQ community," Pelosi said.
"The callousness of Trump to announce this during LGBTQ+ Pride month as the country mourns the four year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The cruelty is the point and it knows no bounds. We will fight this," Harris said.