There is no place for discrimination in Delaware, and there is no place for discrimination in the insurance industry.
But in Washington, the Trump administration is creating an environment in which discrimination can not only exist in insurance and healthcare, it can thrive. If they continue on this trajectory, personal opinions about others could impact premiums and access to care, and in turn, devastate lives.
Just a few years ago, the Affordable Care Act ensured that health programs could not discriminate on the basis of race, color, nation of origin, sex, age, or disability. For the LGBT+ community, it was an historic moment of celebration – the Act was transformational for the protections it provided to non-binary residents. Today, those protections are being trampled.
In May 2019, at the request of the Trump administration, the group tasked with ensuring enforcement of anti-discrimination measures, the Office of Civil Rights, announced a proposal to repeal these critical provisions, specifically targeting gender identity protections. While the issue is debated in courts, the office can’t enforce these components of the law, not that they would – the Office of Civil Rights is led by a political appointee who previously worked for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank and notoriously anti-LGBT+ group.
If this proposal occurs, the impacts could be wide reaching. A non-binary individual could be denied critical care at a religiously affiliated hospital emergency room. A person’s sexual orientation could impact their ability to receive even routine, preventative care. Premiums and policies could change for hundreds of thousands of people. The right to life will become conditional.
We won’t let it happen here. Locally, Delaware’s Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act outlaws any health insurance discrimination based on gender, and we will continue to apply those nondiscrimination requirements to any health plans offered through our Health Insurance Marketplace as well as the Essential Health Benefits we require every health insurance plan offered to individuals and small businesses to cover.
With the help of the General Assembly, we’ve even taken steps to eliminate discrimination in auto and home insurance policies, and we will continue to advocate for consumer protections every day.
That means we can’t be silent now. Late in August, we joined 17 other states to urge for the withdraw of this proposal, which discriminates against the LGBT+ community. It isn’t right, and it can have devastating effects on insurance premiums, and individual health.
Trinidad Navarro is the insurance commissioner of Delaware.