Howard Brown Health condemns last minute HHS final rule
Taxpayer money should not be used to fund discriminatory programs. Amidst the chaos, unrest, and violence of the final days of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule that allows federally funded health and social service providers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The final rule, which was published on the Federal Register on Tuesday, January 12, removes requirements that organizations that receive HHS grant funding cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and must recognize same-sex marriages as legally valid.
HHS awards approximately $500 billion in grant funding each year to a wide array of health and social service programs, including Howard Brown, that provide critical care to millions of Americans across the country. Some of the services provided by HHS grantees include primary and preventative healthcare, HIV/STI treatment and prevention, elder services, nutrition programs, housing assistance, adoption and foster care, and many other critical public services. Under this new rule, federally funded healthcare providers could refuse to serve transgender patients, or adoption agencies could refuse to place children with qualified and loving same-sex parents, for example.
As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 375,000 Americans to date, the last thing that HHS should be doing is finalizing a dangerous rule that could make accessing necessary services even more difficult for marginalized communities. Research has shown that LGBTQ people experience widespread discrimination in healthcare, and that discrimination creates barriers to accessing care and contributes to worsening health disparities. This final rule is currently set to take effect on February 11, 2021. Howard Brown strongly urges the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to rescind this discriminatory and harmful regulation upon taking office.