Two years ago, I gave a presentation to one of the country’s largest health care providers. During the Q&A portion of my talk, I was asked about federal laws prohibiting discrimination in health care based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. My response – There basically are none. No federal statutes, I said, ban sexual orientation or identity discrimination.
Wow – Times sure have changed.
Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decided that federal employment discrimination law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) protected gays and lesbians from workplace sexual orientation discrimination. The EEOC ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation really is a kind of gender stereotyping , stereotyping based on sex, and is illegal under federal law.
In 2015, while preparing proposed non-discrimination rules under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took note of the EEOC action. HHS’s new rules, likely to be published in 2016, will prohibit health care discrimination based on sexual identity and orientation. As HHS explained:
“… a recent EEOC decision concluded that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ precludes sexual orientation discrimination because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily involves sex-based considerations. “
Also last year, a federal court in Minnesota decided for the first time that transgender patients alleging sexual identity discrimination could sue for money under the Affordable Care Act. This landmark court decision has major implications for health care providers. The case is proceeding toward trial so there may well be more developments for future reporting.
So, what do you do?
The vast majority of health care providers that I speak with are unprepared for new federal rules outlawing LGBT discrimination. These providers do not have LGBT patient care training for staff and do not have cultural competence programs that address the needs of the LGBT community. But soon, federal law from HHS will require them to do so.
So, what do you do? Understanding the new legal order and getting ready for new federal rules that are fast approaching are important first steps.
Get a heads-up about all this on February 25 …. It’s Coming – Are You Ready for HHS’s New Non-Discrimination Rules for Health Care Providers?
© Bruce L. Adelson, 2016 All Rights Reserved The material herein is educational and informational only. No legal advice is intended or conveyed.
Bruce L. Adelson, Esq, CEO of Federal Compliance Consulting LLC, is nationally recognized for his compliance expertise concerning many federal laws., Mr. Adelson is a former U.S Department of Justice Senior Attorney. During his Justice career, Mr. Adelson had national enforcement and policy responsibility.