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Internists Alarmed at Decision to Roll Back Rules Prohibiting Discrimination Against Transgender Patients, Women, and Other Vulnerable Patients

Statement attributable to:
Robert McLean, MD, FACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (May 24, 2019) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) is deeply concerned about the administration’s decision to roll back federal rules prohibiting discrimination in health care and coverage against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The proposed rule specifically would eliminate federal rules requiring non-discrimination against transgender persons, weaken requirements that health care clinics accommodate patients with disabilities and with limited English proficiency, and allow clinicians with religious objections to broadly discriminate against women seeking reproductive services. ACP is committed to improving the health of all Americans and opposes discrimination against any patient in the delivery of health care services.

ACP believes that discrimination against patients, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), creates social stigma that has been linked to negative physical and mental health outcomes, including anxiety, suicide, and substance or alcohol abuse. ACP’s 2015 policy paper, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Disparities, provided recommendations on how to achieve health care equality for LGBT patients. These recommendations include enhancing physician understanding of how to provide culturally and clinically competent care for LGBT individuals, addressing environmental and social factors that can affect their mental and physical well-being, and supporting further research into understanding their unique health needs. ACP policy also states that it is unethical for physicians to discriminate against any category of patients.

ACP strongly urges the administration to withdraw their proposal, and instead, make meaningful policy changes that will ensure non-discrimination in health care against all patients, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, disability, or proficiency in the English language.

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org