SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders, denounces the Trump administration’s directive to undercut non-discrimination protections for LGBT people seeking healthcare in the middle of a global pandemic. This heartless and immoral act is a new low in the administration’s repeated efforts to undermine civil rights protections for LGBT people and others during the past three-and-half years and this action will have life-or-death consequences.
As a recent report from the Center for American Progress notes, “An estimated 65 percent of LGBTQ adults have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, or HIV,” resulting in compromised immune systems and therefore high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The novel coronavirus is disproportionately affecting communities of color, with Black people accounting for 22% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. With communities of color already facing heightened health risks, explicitly denying these protections to LGBT people is is literally deadly.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, disability, national origin and sex. The Obama administration issued regulations interpreting the law to bar discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping. The rollback of this guidance aims to put society’s most at-risk groups, including transgender older people, as well as all LGBT people seeking health care, at risk for discrimination at the hands of their providers.
“SAGE condemns the Trump administration for undercutting healthcare non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in the middle of a pandemic. Even for this notoriously anti-LGBT administration, the timing of this latest attack on our community is cruelly surreal.,” says Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE. “Undercutting the protections that section 1557 provides will give health and long-term care providers a license to discriminate against the patients they should be serving. The administration has reached a new low in its repeated efforts to undercut and dismantle the civil rights of LGBT people.”
SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.