April 8, 2022
This morning, a coalition led by EPPC held a second meeting with government officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on anticipated gender identity rulemaking under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this year, HHS announced its intent to propose, by April 2022, new regulations under Section 1557, which prohibits sex discrimination in health programs and activities funded by HHS. Based on executive orders from President Biden’s administration and announcements by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, it is likely that the new regulations would redefine medical standards of care by requiring doctors to perform experimental transgender surgeries (including on minors) against their ethical and medical judgments, and by requiring insurance plans to pay for such dangerous interventions.
HHS agreed to meet with concerned stakeholders after EPPC sent a letter to HHS on March 11 on behalf of a coalition requesting to share the harms that the anticipated rulemaking would inflict on the organizations or the constituencies they represent, including doctors, hospitals, parents, children, and religious institutions.
At the two meetings with senior HHS officials, held on March 29 and April 8, attendees included doctors in academia and private practice, representatives from nearly 20 organizations, and seven former HHS officials, including EPPC Senior Fellow Roger Severino, who was Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights under President Trump, as well as EPPC Fellow Rachel Morrison.
During the meetings, the stakeholders raised many scientific and legal concerns, including the following points:
- Children as young as 11 or 12 are irreparably harmed by puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex-reassignment surgeries, which are progressively self-fulfilling, irreversible, and sterilizing.
- HHS cannot use a nondiscrimination law to establish a medical standard of care.
- Biological sex matters in health care because, for example, men and women respond differently to medication, pain, and illnesses.
- The Supreme Court’s Bostock decision on transgender discrimination was limited to hiring/firing in employment under Title VII and did not address Section 1557 or the health care context.
- Removing protections for medical judgment, conscience, and religious beliefs will drive out health care professionals from the profession and reduce access to health care.
“The proposed rule will try to smuggle in a dangerous new gender identity standard of medical care under the cover of nondiscrimination. Let’s not be coy about this rule’s real goals—to require doctors to perform experimental gender transition surgeries and treatments on adults and minors and to require everyone’s insurance plans to pay for them,” said Roger Severino, Senior Fellow with EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project and former director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. “Because neither law, policy, nor science support such an extreme inversion of medicine, HHS should abandon all efforts at amending the Section 1557 Rule.”
In addition to doctors in academia and private practice, organizations represented at the meetings with HHS include:
- Alliance Defending Freedom
- American Association of Christian Counselors
- American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- American College of Pediatricians
- Bella Health + Wellness
- Catholic Bar Association
- Catholic Benefits Association
- Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance
- Catholic Medical Association
- Christ Medicus Foundation
- Christian Medical & Dental Associations
- Ethics and Public Policy Center
- First Liberty Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- Honey Lake Clinic
- International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling Choice
- The National Catholic Bioethics Center
- The Physicians Resource Council of Focus on the Family