State of Connecticut - Insurance Department

August 5, 2019
CONTACT: Jim Carson, 860-297-3958
Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Calls on Secretary Azar to Stop Discriminatory Changes to the Affordable Care Act

State of Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais joined 17 other state Commissioners to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary to stop their plans to undermine health care protections for transgender consumers.

Commissioner Mais announced he has submitted a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar urging the Trump administration to protect rules that address unfair treatment of transgender consumers. The letter states that changes proposed by the Trump administration will undermine civil rights protections for millions of consumers, create an uneven playing field for health insurers and negatively affect state insurance markets.

Connecticut and several state insurance departments, plus the District of Columbia have determined that discriminatory policies targeting transgender Americans violate state laws and have issued directives and regulations ordering insurance carriers to halt this harmful practice. The Affordable Care Act and its existing rules expanded this protection across the country, ensuring equal protection under the law.

“Safeguarding individuals against discriminatory practices is a fundamental charge of this agency and one I take very seriously,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais. “Barriers to accessing health care based on gender must be challenged and removed.”

The ACA clarified insurers’ responsibility to ensure that transgender policyholders have equal access to the same health insurance and care as every other insured American. This includes health care related to gender transition, which is recognized by the medical community as medically effective and necessary for many individuals, as well as routine tests and treatments that have sometimes been denied to transgender individuals based on the association with a specific gender.

The proposed changes affect Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits sex discrimination in health insurance and clarifies protections for transgender Americans from being denied lifesaving medically necessary care. On May 24th, 2019, the Trump administration proposed regulations that ignore widely-recognized precedent and seek to roll back protections that ensure equal protection from discrimination by insurers and providers.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 23% of transgender people avoided going to the doctor when sick or injured out of fear of discrimination in the past year and 33% of transgender people who did see a health care provider in the past year were harassed, denied care, or even assaulted.

The signatories of this letter, including Commissioner Mais, explain that this proposed rule attempts to give health insurers and providers a license to discriminate against transgender policyholders.

About the Connecticut Insurance Department: The mission of the Department is to protect consumers through regulation of the industry, outreach, education and advocacy. In FY 2018, the Department recovered more than $4.5 million on behalf of consumers and regulates the industry by ensuring carriers adhere to state insurance laws and regulations and are financially solvent to pay claims. The Department’s annual budget is funded through assessments from the insurance industry. For every dollar of direct expense, the Department brings in about $8.35 to the state in revenues. In FY 2018, the Department returned more than $145 million in assessments, fees, fines and penalties, and taxes to the state’s General Fund.
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