A federal judge on Monday passed an order preventing the Trump administration from enforcing a rule that allows health care providers to discriminate against transgender patients – one day before the ordinance goes into effect.
US District Judge Frederic Block, a Clinton-appointed judge, relies heavily on the recent landmark decision of the US Supreme Court in Bostock against Clayton County, which found that discrimination against LGBTQ was a form of discrimination based on the population Gender is.
"The Court reiterates the same practical concern it expressed at an oral hearing when the Supreme Court delivered an important decision. It makes sense to pause and reflect on the implications of the decision," writes Block. "Since HHS did not want to take this route voluntarily, the Court is now making it mandatory."
The Department of Health and Human Services rule, finalized in June, repealed an Obama-era ordinance that interpreted the prohibition of sex discrimination in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act in cases of anti-trans discrimination.
Block hits the Trump administration for breaking the rule before the Supreme Court had a chance to rule on the Bostock case and after changing course again after he was surrendered.
"HHS stated that it knew the case was pending and that there would be 'consequences'. It must also have known that a decision would be taken before the end of the Supreme Court term, ”writes Block. "It then had an (admittedly brief) opportunity to re-evaluate its proposed rules after the case was resolved contrary to its expectations."
The lawsuit was filed in June by the human rights campaign in the US District Court for the Eastern Borough of New York on behalf of two transgender women of color – Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker and Cecilia Gentil – with longstanding discrimination in the healthcare sector.
Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, said in a statement the order will be of benefit to both plaintiffs and marginalized communities suffering from the "effects of the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial violence".
"We're delighted that the court has recognized this irrational rule for what it is: discrimination, plain and simple," said David. "LGBTQ Americans deserve the health care they need without fear of abuse, harassment, or humiliation."
The order contrasts with a 2016 decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Conner that prevented the U.S. government from enforcing the Obama-era rule against transgender discrimination in healthcare.
"In the midst of a pandemic, the Trump administration has carried out a relentless assault on the health and well-being of our communities and worked tirelessly to dismantle all the lifesaving protections of the Affordable Care Act for millions of Americans," said California Senator Nancy Pelosi. "The Trump administration's discriminatory HHS rule, which denies LGBTQ Americans vital health care benefits, is just the latest gruesome assault on the government's ongoing anti-health agenda." Today's District Court decision to enact this dangerous rule is a victory for the LGBTQ community and the rule of law. "
After an order was issued banning HHS from enforcing the Non-Discrimination Against Transgender Act, it was not immediately clear how the division would implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.
However, the 2016 ordinance precedes Bostock's decision, which Block said is the right guide to conclude that the Trump administration's anti-trans exclusion is indeed incompatible with the law and should be reversed .
The blade has made a request to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment on the order and implementation.