Bevin joins lawsuit that targets federal transgender rule, saying it will force health-care providers to provide ‘controversial services’

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Gov. Matt Bevin has joined a lawsuit that challenges a federal rule guaranteeing transgender people equal treatment by insurers and medical providers.

“Not only does the rule require taxpayers to fund all treatments designed to transition to a different sex, it also forces health-care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services,” says a state news release. “Under the new rule, a physician who believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best medical interests may be in violation of federal law.”

“The Obama administration continues its attacks on the constitutional rights and religious freedoms of Kentuckians,” Bevin said in the release. “It is both appalling and illegal for the federal government to force Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill for sex-change operations.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Pete Williams of NBC News that the rule is intended to prevent discrimination against transgender people in getting access to all kinds of health care.

“The ACA rule does not mandate what kind of care doctors can and cannot give. It bans discrimination. It’s there to make sure that transgender people can get the treatment we need without facing harassment — or worse,” she said. “It simply requires that medical decisions be made based on medicine, not prejudice.”

The rule falls under the nondiscrimination provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that offers protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs or activities. The new rule expanded the definition of gender identity to mean a person’s “internal sense of gender which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” The rule went into effect July 18.

The rule extends to any health program or activity that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including health insurers on the state and federal exchanges.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Fort Worth by Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin, joined by the Christian Medical and Dental Association and the Franciscan Alliance. It is filed against HHS and its secretary, Sylvia Burwell.

“This is the second lawsuit Bevin has joined over transgender issues. In May, he joined 12 other states in a challenge of federal guidelines to accommodate transgender students in schools,” Daniel Desrochers notes for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“Kentucky taxpayer dollars will not fund this lawsuit,” says the release, but it doesn’t say who will.

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