(Washington, DC, September 3, 2015) – Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed regulations for Section 1557, the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination provision. The proposed regulations will prohibit healthcare providers and insurance companies from denying transgender people medically necessary care because of their gender identity. This includes everything from routine medical exams to transition-related care.

 Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Policy Director Julie Gonen, Esq.:

 “Today, HHS has taken a major step to ensure that all transgender individuals will have access to life-saving, affirming care that is consistent with the prevailing standard of care. We applaud the agency for taking such a strong position and developing regulations that are consistent with the goal of Section 1557, which is to eradicate discrimination in healthcare. The protections outlined in the proposed regulations would ensure that transgender people—including youth—who are routinely denied this care despite decades of clinical experience and medical literature demonstrating its medical necessity can get the healthcare they need to live full, authentic, and healthy lives. However, in order to realize the full promise of Section 1557, we call also upon HHS to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its final regulations.”

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, immediately expanding health insurance coverage and improving access to care across the country. Section 1557 of the ACA is the first Federal civil rights law to prohibit sex discrimination in health care. It prohibits recipients of federal funds from discriminating against a person based on a number of specific categories, including sex. Like other federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, HHS recognizes that the term “sex” includes gender identity and expression.