Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Sunday announced a series of aggressive actions to counter the Trump Administration's expected efforts to legalize discrimination against transgender individuals seeking access to health care. In anticipation of the federal government's rollback of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, the Governor has directed the New York State Department of Health to issue regulations prohibiting health care providers from discriminating against transgender patients. The Governor also directed the New York State Department of Financial Services to issue regulations expanding the scope of anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals when it comes to accessing health insurance, and to issue a circular letter reminding industry participants that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is already prohibited in New York in certain policies.
"New York was founded upon the principles of fairness and equality and we won't stand idly by while Washington seeks to claw back hard-earned rights and protections," Governor Cuomo said. "For every step the Trump Administration takes backwards, New York will take two steps forward, and these regulations will guarantee and expand protections for transgender New Yorkers to help ensure every resident has equal access to health care."
The Trump administration has proposed repealing a federal regulation that clarifies that the Affordable Care Act's non-discrimination protections based on sex include protections based on gender identity. Removing these protections would expose approximately 90,300 transgender New Yorkers to unfair, blatant and unlawful discrimination.
As a result, the Governor has directed the State Department of Health to issue a regulation requiring all hospitals in the state to update their statements of patient rights to prohibit discrimination against transgender patients. The current regulations do not include such a requirement. In 2016, the New York State Division of Human Rights adopted regulations clarifying that the Human Rights Law protects transgender New Yorkers from discrimination because sex discrimination includes gender identity discrimination. Today's DOH regulation builds on and strengthens DHR's previous actions to now require hospitals to affirmatively inform patients of their rights.
Click here to see DOH's proposed regulation.
In addition, the Governor has directed the State Department of Financial Services to issue new regulations to expand the scope of anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals seeking access to health insurance beyond the ACA's prior protections. The ACA previously protected transgender individuals from discrimination in individual and small group health insurance policies, but did not provide protection with respect to large group policies. Today, DFS will propose a regulation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the administration of large group policies.
DFS is also issuing a circular letter reminding industry participants that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is already prohibited in New York in individual and small group policies. DFS issued regulations in 2017 ensuring that the full scope of the ACA's anti-discrimination protections would be preserved and protected in New York, regardless of future actions taken by the Federal administration in Washington.
Finally, the Division of Human Rights today is issuing a public fact sheet reminding New Yorkers that the New York State Human Rights Law specifically applies to hospitals and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. DHR administers and enforces the Human Rights Law, and any individuals who believe they have been discriminated against are encouraged to contact the using DHR contact information listed below.
Click here to see DHR fact sheet.