For the first time, Funders for LGBTQ Issues is issuing public comments and we are doing so in opposition to proposed changes to Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The changes threaten the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities, immigrants, and anyone seeking reproductive healthcare.
Up until now, Section 1557 clarified that discrimination against LGBTQ people in healthcare settings and health insurance benefits is unlawful. Now, the Trump Administration is proposing to remove such guidance.
The proposed rules change would harm our most vulnerable community members by:
- Sowing confusion among healthcare workers and insurance companies by giving the impression that discrimination against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is permissible.
- Granting medical providers a broad religious exemption whereby they could use their personal beliefs rather than their professional obligations to decide whom they will serve, potentially resulting in a wide range of people being turned away from life-saving care: LGBT people, unmarried people, or people who have had an abortion or need one.
- Eliminating the requirement that health programs to post notices about the availability of language access programs, making it harder for people with limited English proficiency or other disabilities to access medical care, and removing the mandate that discrimination based on immigration status is prohibited.
Please note that submitting public comments regarding a proposed regulation is not considered lobbying, which is narrowly defined as the attempt to influence specific legislation. Submitting comments on proposed rules – such as these proposed changes to Section 1557 – is a permissible advocacy activity for both public and private foundations to engage in. For more information, please see these guidelines on advocacy and lobbying for foundations from the Council on Foundations.