Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society on SCOTUS LGBTQ decision and HHS ruling on non-discrimination in health care

Massachusetts Medical Society on SCOTUS LGBTQ decision and HHS ruling on non-discrimination in health care

The Supreme Court today rightly and justly made a historic decision that protects members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination in the workplace, representing a sweeping victory and step forward for the community and all who oppose inequality and dehumanization.

The SCOTUS decision is indeed a monumental step forward, but it came mere days after the administration took a cruel and ill-conceived step backward in its latest attempt to fracture, undermine, and destroy protections guaranteed to all patients under the Affordable Care Act by reversing a policy that prohibited various forms of discrimination by health care providers against LGBTQ patients, women, and non-English speaking patients.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) final rule endorses discrimination by removing a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and allowing providers to deny care if performing a procedure violates the provider's moral or religious beliefs. Additionally, the Administration strikes provisions to ensure patients’ language access, furthering its discriminatory tendencies. Together, these measures will seriously harm LGBTQ patients, women seeking abortions and other reproductive health care, and non-English speaking patients, making it harder for many individuals seek care.

The elimination of nondiscrimination protections in health care is not only abhorrent, but it perpetuates stigma and will have serious consequences to the physical and mental health of untold members of the LGBTQ community, women and non-English speaking patients, erecting barriers to comprehensive, non-discriminatory health care premised on intolerance and bias, which MMS vehemently denounces. The stress and fear felt by our patients who are targeted by this bigoted and hateful line of thinking is demoralizing and dangerous.

The Massachusetts Medical Society holds strong our policy that health care is a basic human right and we remain committed to working for the best possible health care for every patient, regardless of racial identification, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, disability, immigration status, or economic status.

-David A. Rosman, MD, MBA, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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