Many health providers would be barred from discriminating against transgender people or those with other sexual orientations under a newly proposed Obamacare-related rule, which also would extend discrimination protections to people with disabilities and limited English ability across a broad range of insurance programs.
The rule would cover all insurers who sell health plans on government-run Obamacare exchanges such as HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces as well as doctors and hospitals that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, and other health programs or activities that receive funding from the Health and Human Services Department.
Employer-based insurance plans would also be affected if those insurers sell Obamacare plans.
The newly proposed protections for transgender people, officials said, come partly in response to the historical practices of some health insurance policies that categorically excluded coverage of all health care related to people transitioning between genders.
Transgender rights have received renewed attention this year on the heels of Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner transitioning from her previous identity as Bruce Jenner.
Under the proposed rule, "Individuals must also be treated consistent with their gender identity, including access to facilities," HHS said in a press release. In other words, under the proposal, people would be able to use single-sex restrooms that match their identified gender.