The Trump administration has proposed rolling back federal rules prohibiting discrimination in healthcare against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals that are part of the Affordable Care Act. The proposal also allows physicians to discriminate against women seeking reproductive services. In both cases, physicians could refuse treatment based on religious beliefs.
More than two dozen healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians (ACP), sent a joint letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar objecting to the rule after the proposal was announced May 24.
“ACP is committed to improving the health of all Americans and opposes discrimination against any patient in the delivery of healthcare services,” Robert McLean, MD, president of the ACP, said in a news release. “ACP believes that discrimination against patients, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, creates social stigma that has been linked to negative physical and mental health outcomes, including anxiety, suicide, and substance or alcohol abuse.”
ACP policy states that it is unethical for physicians to discriminate against any category of patients, and the organization urged the administration to withdraw the proposal. The AMA is reviewing the proposal details, but emphasized it does not agree with discrimination for any reason.
“The AMA strongly believes that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation,” Patrice Harris, MD, MA, president-elect of the AMA said in a news release. “Similarly, the AMA does not condone discrimination based on whether a woman has had an abortion. Respect for the diversity of patients is a fundamental value of the medical profession and reflected in long-standing AMA ethical policy opposing discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, or termination thereof.”
The joint letter sent to Azar noted that LGBTQ individuals are already more likely to delay medical care out of fear of being mistreated. Other organizations signing the letter include the American Academy of Nursing, American Academy of PAs, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association.