June 12 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Friday rolled back non-discrimination protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The move by the Department of Health and Human Services scraps a rule under the Affordable Care Act. The department said under the amended rule, the government will take a more narrow interpretation of sex discrimination.
"HHS will enforce [the rule] by returning to the government's interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word "sex" as male or female and as determined by biology," the department said in a news release.
That means there won't be protections in place for LGBTQ individuals, including those who are gay, lesbian and/or transgender.
HHS said the change will save hospitals and insurers $2.9 billion in "unnecessary regulatory burdens" over five years. The department said the new rule means those regulated entities won't have to send patients and customers notices about non-discrimination practices.
"HHS respects the dignity of every human being, and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress," said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. "We are unwavering in our commitment to enforcing civil rights in healthcare."
The announcement comes on the four-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that killed 49 people -- a venue that mostly catered to an LGBTQ crowd. It also coincides with Pride Month, during which LGBTQ celebrations and parades take place.
The Human Rights Campaign said it plans to sue the Trump administration for the rule change, which it described as an attack.
"Today, the Human Rights Campaign is announcing plans to sue the Trump administration for exceeding their legal authority and attempting to remove basic healthcare protections from vulnerable communities including LGBTQ people," HRC President Alphonso David said.
"LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care. LGBTQ people should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are. It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalized communities, deserve equality under the law."