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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Condemns Trump Administration Rule Allowing LGBTQ Discrimination In Healthcare


Illinois is joining a chorus of states condemning a Trump administration proposal to rollback protections for transgender people under the Affordable Care Act.

Health care insurers and doctors could deny service to transgender patients, under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It would remove gender identity as a basis for sex discrimination. The rule would also remove protections for women who have had an abortion.

Lars Avis, with the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Peoria Proud, said that would cause even more problems for people who already have trouble finding doctors.

“I’ve had the experience when I’ve tried to seek healthcare and I’ve told the doctor that I’m transgender, I’m not receiving the same quality of care as I would if I were cis-gender,” he said. “It would almost be encouraging something like that to happen.”

Advocates say the rule means transgender patients could be denied even basic health care. It would also allow doctors to refuse to provide — and insurers to refuse to cover — transition services.

“It’s a little bit of a slap in the face to even have to try to prove to someone that this is a medical necessity, not just something that I want just to want,” Avis said. “It’s something that I need.”

According to the HHS filing, the changes are meant to streamline the law and “better comply with the mandates of Congress, address legal concerns, relieve billions of dollars in undue regulatory burdens … reduce confusion, and clarify the scope of Section 1557.”

Last week, the head of the Illinois Department of Insurance signed onto a letterwith 17 other states urging the HHS Secretary Alex Azar to reconsider. They argue it's a violation of civil rights.

The public can submit comments on the rule until August 13.

Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WCBU. Prior to moving to Peoria, Dana covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois. She earned her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. She also graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she studied communication and produced Morning Edition for WNIJ. Dana's interests include criminal justice reform, economic equity and the environment.