University axes healthcare cover for gender transitions
The University of Arkansas will scrap healthcare for gender transitions, after providing just three months of cover.
The southern American university had brought the cover for transgender staff in from January, after President Obama made anti-discrimination changes to federal healthcare law.
However, after a Texas judge blocked the order, the university will now be suspending access to treatment from March.
In an email to staff Richard Ray, benefits director at the university, said the move was due to the “frequent changes and uncertainty of the regulations.”
“In compliance with the Affordable Care Act regulations which were issued mid year in 2016, the University’s health plan scheduled Gender Dysphoria coverage for implementation on January 1, 2017,” he added.
“On December 31 the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction. More specifically the injunction prohibits health and human services from enforcing regulations addressing gender identity.”
District Judge Reed O’Connor, who blocked order, said it defied existing laws by defining sex bias as including “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy.”
He also said it violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs rule-making.
Cover will now be suspended until the final legal outcome of the injunction, with effect from March 6. In a statement to Arkansas Online, the university said they were unsure how many people would be affected.
Carla Combs, a member of the Tennessee Equality Project board, said she was “aggravated, irritated, agitated, and enraged” by the decision.
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“Some of the subscribers are transgender and were counting on these new 2017 benefits,” she added.
“They are CHOOSING to do this. This rogue judge in Texas is not forcing them to remove health care benefits from transgender subscribers, they’re simply using it as an opportunity to discriminate.”
While the new rule was not set up specifically to protect transgender people, it aimed to beat discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
Religious groups had been angered by the changes, saying it could force hospitals and doctors to give treatments which were against their faith.
PinkNews has contacted the University for comment.