EPPC Scholars Meet with Federal Officials to Discuss Concerns over Anticipated Section 1557 Rulemaking

Published April 6, 2022

On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project scholars Roger Severino and Rachel N. Morrison met with federal government officials to discuss concerns over anticipated rulemaking under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the guise of “gender identity nondiscrimination,” the new rule could redefine standards of care by requiring doctors to perform experimental transgender surgeries (including on minors) against their ethical and medical judgment, and by requiring insurance plans to pay for such dangerous interventions.

The scholars told government officials:

We expect OCR will propose that health care practitioners and insurance companies will be required to treat people consistent with their self-identified gender identity “in all respects” without any requirement that a person so identifying has undergone any “transition” treatments or surgeries, dresses or acts in any particular manner, have any diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or have a legal name or birth certificate change. The expected changes in the proposed rule are not about people being barred from receiving healthcare due to irrelevant immutable characteristics such as race. Rather, if the proposed rule, as expected, redefines sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity the proposed rule would not be about discrimination in any traditional sense because LGBT persons are not being denied healthcare based solely on their self-identified status. Statements and actions from HHS confirm that this proposed rule will be about smuggling in a new standard of care into medicine and imposing a requirement for gender transition procedures under cover of nondiscrimination. While Director of OCR, I (Roger Severino) reviewed the evidence and found no denials of access based on identity sufficient to justify regulatory intervention. 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. Because neither law, policy, nor science support such an extreme inversion of medicine, we request the Agency abandon all efforts at amending the Section 1557 Rule. 

A written version of their comments, submitted to the government, is available here (PDF).

Photo by Sarah Stierch – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16518455

Roger Severino is a former senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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