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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 23, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 08
Trump dismantles Obama-era LGBT health policies
Section One
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Trump dismantles Obama-era LGBT health policies

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Trump administration is moving decisively to dismantle all Obama-era policies supporting LGBT health care.

First, Trump's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) discontinued LGBT-related health data collection, which provided a window into health status and discrimination affecting the LGBT community.

'A lot of people think data are really boring. But data are fundamental, especially to public health,' said Kellan Baker, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who worked with the HHS on LGBT issues for nearly a decade. 'The only way to have the evidence you need to prioritize and spend wisely to address disparities is to have data about those disparities.'

The Trump administration swiftly froze a series of LGBT-friendly rules, including proposed new regulations to further ban discrimination in Medicare and Medicaid.

A regulation that would have allowed Transgender HHS staff more protections when using the department's bathrooms and other facilities also was ignored.

'It was signed and technically finished on Jan. 19, 2017, but not posted online,' said one staffer. 'And the new administration considered it unpublished and pulled it back.'

The Trump administration also reinterpreted the ACA's Section 1557 anti-discrimination mandate, with the White House declining to fight a court battle to enforce it and signaling that it would roll back the rule.

Then in January, the HHS established a new 'religious liberty' division to defend health workers who have religious objections to treating LGBT patients.

The changes at the HHS represent 'rapid destruction of so much of the progress on LGBT health,' Baker warned.

'It's only a matter of time before all the gains made under the Obama administration are reversed under the Trump administration, for purposes that have nothing to do with public health and have everything to do with politics.'

This comes at a time when many LGBT individuals have less access to health care than their straight neighbors, according to a Health Affairs study conducted last year. A Harvard-Robert Wood Johnson-NPR survey found that one in six LGBT individuals reported experiencing discrimination from doctors or at a clinic.

The policy reversals also come after President Donald Trump repeatedly pledged during his campaign that he would support LGBT causes.

'Thank you to the LGBT community!' Trump tweeted in June 2016. 'I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.'

'The policies of the Trump administration are intended to improve the lives of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,' White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.

'Through actions aimed at making health care more affordable, rolling back burdensome regulations, and combating the opioid crisis, the administration is working to ensure a healthier America.'

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