Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and family at The Heritage Foundation, tells AFN the Biden Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking to change President Obama's Affordable Care Act Section 1557, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex.
"Under this new rule, sex will be redefined to include sexual orientation and gender identity," Richards explains. "What that means is that the biological reality of male or female is now being transformed into this entirely internal and subjective sense that someone supposedly has of their gender identity."
That means so-called gender-transition surgery and/or so-called gender-affirming care, even for minors, will now be required under certain conditions under the Affordable Care Act. Transgender activists often describe procedures for minors, including cross-sex hormones and gender-affirming surgery, as medically necessary.
The Daily Signal reports that Melanie Fontes Rainer, acting director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, also says that "discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or related conditions, including 'pregnancy termination.'"
Richards points out that someone will have to pay for those things.
"If you're on the public plan, for instance under Medicare or Medicaid, it's going to be the taxpayers that foot the bill," he says. "Even for many of those who are on private insurance plans, it will still in part be taxpayers because your insurance premiums will go up because your insurance company is now compelled to cover gender-transition surgeries."
Religious organizations like hospitals would be protected under another proposed rule change, but conscience rights of medical professionals would not.
HHS is currently taking public comments, and Richards says those are important because federal law requires that the agency heed them.