After the DoJ-Education Department rule that ordered public schools to offer restroom privileges to students according to their gender identity, the Obama administration finalized a rule today that requires insurance companies to offer benefits to transgendered people based on the gender preference.
The two moves, both of which have been in the works for more than a year, reflect the Obama administration’s push to affirm transgender rights as a central civil-rights question for the current era. And they sparked an immediate backlash from conservatives on the state and federal level, who described the new measures as government overreach.
While the new Department of Health and Human Services rule does not require insurers to automatically approve all gender transitioning services, it means that they cannot categorically deny coverage as they have in the past. These services can range from vaginal reconstruction to treatment for ovarian cancer when an individual identifies as a man.
Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said the two policies show “the administration has spoken quite clearly” on what protections transgender Americans deserve in schools and in the medical arena.
“Every time we have a debate about the issue, whichever side you’re on, raising the issue make people stop and have to confront the way they think,” she said. “It is in that moment, it is in that fight, as we’ve seen on LGBT issues, that we make progress.”
That fight intensified Friday, especially in wake of the Education and Justice Department’s instruction to schools across the country that they must accommodate transgender students by allowing them to use facilities and participate in single-sex activities that match their chosen gender identity, rather than the one listed on their birth certificate.
I suppose if a woman transitions to a man and comes down with ovarian cancer or cancer of the uterus, the transgender consumer should have his/her medical bills paid for. But am I the only one who thinks it bizarre the the taxpayer will be subsidizing an insurance policy that allows a biological woman (pre-op transgender) who says she has transitioned to a man to be treated for female maladies? Under these circumstances, the transitioned transgender man is demanding we treat him like a woman!
My head hurts.
The health-care rule, which applies to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and was first proposed in September, mandates that any health insurance company that participates in the federal health-care exchange cannot deny individuals health care or coverage based on their gender identity, and “must be treated consistent with their gender identity, including in access to facilities.”
Friday’s ruling is significant because insurers must apply this same approach to every plan they administer, including those in the private sector or elsewhere in the federal government.
“A central goal of the Affordable Care Act is to help all Americans access quality, affordable health care. Today’s announcement is a key step toward realizing equity within our health care system and reaffirms this Administration’s commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, in a statement.
They could have made the policy optional instead of another forced mandate. But that’s not in keeping with the administration’s motto: “You will be forced to care.”
There is going to be a backlash against these two rules that may play a part in the November election. But the passions the issue arouses on both sides means that there will be little advantage to either side in turning out voters.
Our assimilation is right on schedule.
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