Bill Title: Health Care Providers and Health Benefit Plans – Discrimination in Provision of Services
Bill Number(s): SB738/HB1120
Bill Sponsor(s): Delegate Ariana B. Kelly (D-16, Montgomery County), Senator Brian J. Feldman (D-15, Montgomery County)
What will this bill do?
This bill ensures that hospitals and related institutions as well as people licensed or regulated by the Maryland Department of Health or Maryland Insurance Administration cannot deny services or coverage to people based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information or disability of the individual.
Why is this important?
Discrimination against LGBTQ people can take many forms in a healthcare setting: doctors may refuse to provide care for LGBTQ patients because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, may refuse to recognize the family of LGBTQ couples, and may use harsh or abusive language when treating them. Similarly, insurance companies could exclude people from coverage.
This discrimination disproportionately affects transgender patients. In fact, a 2017 study by the Center for American Progress demonstrates that 29 % of transgender patients were excluded from healthcare service by a provider because of their actual or perceived gender identity. A 2015 US Transgender Survey report revealed that one in four transgender people avoided seeking care for fear of discrimination, while one-third who did see a health care provider in the year prior reported having at least one negative experience relating to their transgender status.
This persistent discrimination causes many LGBTQ Marylanders, especially those outside of the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., metro areas, to drive between 45 to three hours to access inclusive healthcare services. Even if they are able to find an affirming provider, however, services can still be (and sometimes are) denied by hospital policies that discriminate against LGBTQ patients. In one recent case, for instance, a hospital in Baltimore cancelled a transgender man’s hysterectomy the night before surgery, despite allowing cisgender patients to receive hysterectomies in the same facilities.
Discrimination like this negatively impacts the wellbeing of LGBTQ Marylanders by decreasing their access to healthcare providers and to medical care, especially for those living in rural areas or seeking specialized treatments. SB738/HB1120 would decrease this discrimination faced by LGBTQ people in healthcare settings, increasing their access to inclusive care and improving their wellbeing.