Bevin joins lawsuit over new healthcare protections for transgender people

Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 6:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2016 at 7:21 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Gov. Matt Bevin joined a lawsuit on Tuesday over a new Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulation that provides explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity in health care and insurance.

In a news release from the Governor's Office, Bevin charges that the new rule, which went into effect in July, requires taxpayers to foot the bill for gender reassignment surgeries.

"Not only does the rule require taxpayers to fund all treatments designed to transition to a different sex, it also forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services," Bevin stated. "Under the new rule, a physician who believes that certain treatments are not in a patient's best medical interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician who, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may also be determined to be in violation of this new rule."

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According to one recent analysis, the new provision does not require certain types of health plans to cover all gender transitioning services. Furthermore, although rule does not include a religious exemption, the Office for Civil Rights has stated that the new regulation does not overrule existing protections for religious freedom and conscience, the analysis determined.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the new ACA rule prohibits "the denial of healthcare or health coverage based on an individual's sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping."

It also states that transgender individuals must be treated in a manner consistent with their gender identity and that they cannot be denied care otherwise available, even when the care is transition-related.

"As the Obama Administration has attempted to do in other instances, this new rule interprets 'sex' as a state of mind, not a biological fact," Bevin said. "When it enacted the law, Congress used the term 'sex' as a biological category. The Obama Administration is now trying to redefine the law so that the term 'sex' means ones' 'internal sense of gender which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.' But the President does not have the power to rewrite law."

Four states in addition to Kentucky - Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin and Nebraska - are plaintiffs in the lawsuit along with the organizations Franciscan Alliance Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois and Christian Medical & Dental Association.

"The Obama Administration continues its attacks on the constitutional rights and religious freedoms of Kentuckians," Bevin said. It is both appalling and illegal for the federal government to force Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill for sex-change operations. That is a ridiculous misuse of power by the Obama administration. I intend to fight this type of liberal foolishness at every turn and will stand firm in protecting the rights and values of Kentuckians."

The Governor's Office said Kentucky taxpayer money will not fund the lawsuit.

Click here to review the lawsuit.

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