Federal judge halts transgender protections in Obamacare
WASHINGTON — A federal judge halted protections for transgender individuals that were found in the Affordable Care Act, issuing the injunction just a day before the safeguards would go into effect.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas halted the protections for their treatments and for abortion-related services, siding with the state of Texas against the Obama administration on Saturday.
“Plaintiffs claim the Rule’s interpretation of sex discrimination pressures doctors to deliver healthcare in a manner that violates their religious freedom and thwarts their independent medical judgment and will require burdensome changes to their health insurance plans on January 1, 2017,” O’Connor wrote. “Plaintiffs argue the new regulation will require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.”
O’Connor said the protections violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
White House spokeswoman Katie Hill described the judge’s decision as a “setback.”
“Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans — regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation — should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination,” Hill said.
The state of Texas perennially files a number of lawsuits against what it sees as federal overreach. Republicans in Congress have promised to scrap the Affordable Care Act, and President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to sign the repeal, though it is unclear what healthcare bill Republicans will pass, if any, to replace it.
President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, was passed in 2010, but its provisions have been phased in incrementally.