We can start with the easy things first: Everyone deserves healthcare. The US system of providing it is particularly atrocious, with millions uncovered. That much of it is delivered via employers is also nuts.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) of early 2010 was an attempt to bring coverage to more people, and though necessarily limited—remember it passed by a very narrow margin—it had been a reasonable success until Trump began gutting it.
Trump’s latest move at restricting healthcare eliminates an administrative rule that attempted to redefine the law to cover transgender individuals. That this change was made during Pride Month is no error; cruelty is part of the Trump MO.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, known as the Health Care Rights Law, “prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.” A rule enacted in 2016 interpreted the ban on sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity, building on similar interpretations in other federal civil rights laws and court rulings, and termination of pregnancy.
The fundamental problem is that “gender identity” is not the same thing as “sex.” The law the Congress barely passed and President Obama signed into law specifically spelled out the protected categories. There is a reason that neither “sexual orientation” nor “gender identity” were in that list: The law would not have passed.
So the Obama administration did what they could and created an administrative rule to broaden the scope of the protected class of sex. Live by the sword, die by the sword. What can be done by one President power of fiat can be undone by the next.
But the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Friday that it was eliminating “certain provisions of the 2016 Rule that exceeded the scope of the authority delegated by Congress in Section 1557. HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”
“The 2016 Rule declined to recognize sexual orientation as a protected category under the ACA, and HHS will leave that judgment undisturbed,” HHS said.
The problem is that in this, Trump is not wrong. Neither of this categories were intended by Congress to be included in the discrimination provision of the ACA.
That said, it’s still cruel. And everyone still deserves healthcare.