Doctors Could Refuse to Treat People Based on Race and Age Under Trump’s New Rule

A new Trump administration proposal would change the civil rights rules dictating whether providers must care for patients who are transgender or have had an abortion. News stories have mainly focused on how the proposal might affect LGBTQ rights and abortion rights, but the sweeping proposal has implications for all Americans, because the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to change how far civil rights protections extend and how those protections are enforced.

Roger Severino, the director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, has been candid about his intentions to overturn an Obama-era rule that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and termination of a pregnancy. In 2016, while at the conservative Heritage Foundation, he co-authored a paper arguing the restrictions threaten the independence of physicians to follow their religious or moral beliefs. Supporters of the approach say it protects the freedom of conscience, but opponents say it encourages discrimination.

His office unveiled the proposed rule on May 24, when many people were focused on the start of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The rule is the latest Trump administration proposal to strip protections for transgender Americans, coming the same week another directive was proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would allow homeless shelters to turn away people based on their gender identity.

The public was given 60 days to comment on the HHS proposal. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about it.

What would this proposal do?

Fundamentally, the proposed rule would overturn a previous rule that forbids health care providers who receive federal funding from discriminating against patients on the basis of their gender identity or whether they have terminated a pregnancy.

The Trump administration proposal would eliminate those protections, enabling providers to deny these groups care or insurance coverage without having to pay a fine or suffer other federal consequences.

That may mean refusing a transgender patient mental health care or gender-confirming surgery. But it may also mean denying patients care that has nothing to do with gender identity, such as a regular office visit for a bad cold or ongoing treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes.

“What it does, from a very practical point of view, is that it empowers bad actors to be bad actors,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told reporters.

The proposal would also eliminate protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity from several other health care regulations, like non-discrimination guidelines for the health care insurance marketplaces.

Does it affect only LGBTQ people?

The proposal goes beyond removing protections for the LGBTQ community and those who have had an abortion.

It appears to weaken other protections, such as those based on race or age, by limiting who must abide by the rules. The Trump proposal would scrap the Obama-era rule’s broad definition of which providers can be punished by federal health officials for discrimination, a complicated change critics have said could ease requirements for insurance companies, for instance, as well as the agency itself.

And the proposal erases many of the enforcement procedures outlined in the earlier rule, including its explicit ban on intimidation or retaliation. It also delegates to Severino, as the office’s director, full enforcement authority when it comes to things like opening investigations into complaints lodged under the non-discrimination rule.

Why did HHS decide to change the rule?

The Obama and Trump administrations have different opinions about whether a health care provider should be able to refuse service to patients because they are transgender or have had an abortion.

It all goes back to a section in the Affordable Care Act barring discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. President Barack Obama’s health officials said it is discrimination to treat someone differently based on gender identity or stereotypes.

It was the first time Americans who are transgender were protected from discrimination in health care.

But President Donald Trump’s health officials said that definition of sex discrimination misinterprets civil rights laws, particularly a religious freedom law used to shield providers who object to performing certain procedures, such as abortions, or treating certain patients because they conflict with their religious convictions.

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” Severino said in a statement. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives.”

Much of what the Office for Civil Rights has done under Severino’s leadership is to emphasize and strengthen so-called conscience protections for health care providers, many of which existed well before Trump was sworn in. Last year, Severino unveiled a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, and his office recently finalized another rule detailing those protections and their enforcement.

The office also said the proposed rule would save about $3.6 billion over five years. Most of that would come from eliminating requirements for providers to post notices about discrimination, as well as other measures that cater to those with disabilities and limited English proficiency.

The rule would also save providers money that might instead be spent handling grievances from those no longer protected.

The office “considers this a benefit of the rule,” said Katie Keith, co-founder of Out2Enroll, an organization that helps the LGBTQ community obtain health insurance. “Organizations will have lower labor costs and lower litigation costs because they will no longer have to process grievances or defend against lawsuits brought by transgender people.”

Why does this matter?

Research shows the LGBTQ community faces greater health challenges and higher rates of illness than other groups, making access to equitable treatment in health care all the more important.

Discrimination, from the misuse of pronouns to denials of care, is “commonplace” for transgender patients, according to a 2011 report by advocacy groups. The report found that 28 percent of the 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people interviewed said they had experienced verbal harassment in a health care setting, while 19 percent said they had been refused care due to their gender identity.

The report said 28 percent had postponed seeking medical attention when they were sick or injured because of discrimination.

Critics fear the rule would muddy the waters, giving patients less clarity on what is and is not permissible and how to get help when they have been the victims of discrimination.

Jocelyn Samuels, the Obama administration official who oversaw the implementation of the Obama-era rule, said that for now, even though the Trump administration’s HHS will not pursue complaints against those providers, Americans still have the right to challenge this treatment in court. Multiple courts have said the prohibition on sex discrimination includes gender identity.

“The administration should be in the business of expanding access to health care and health coverage,” Samuels told reporters on a conference call after the rule’s release. “And my fear is that this rule does just the opposite.”

[VICE]

Trump ignores black #1 NFL pick to congratulate white player with history of racist tweets

In his first tweet on Saturday morning, President Donald Trump ignored the first player picked in the NFL draft, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who is black, to praise the number two pick — a white player with a history of racist tweets.

In his tweet, Trump skipped over the Heisman Trophy winner to celebrate Ohio State’s Nick Bosa — who missed most of the 2018 season — for being picked second.

“Congratulations to Nick Bosa on being picked number two in the NFL Draft. You will be a great player for years to come, maybe one of the best. Big Talent! San Francisco will embrace you but most importantly, always stay true to yourself. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he tweeted.

According to to the San Franciso Chronicle,”Bosa recently deleted tweets in which he called Colin Kaepernick a ‘clown,’ referred to Beyonce’s music as ‘complete trash’ and called ‘Black Panther’ the worst Marvel movie. On Thursday, the website Blacksportsonline posted threads showing Bosa following and liking accounts that feature white nationalist posts. The twitter feed @rzstprogramming showed Bosa retweeted a tweet referring to ‘crappernick.’”

[Raw Story]

Trump accuses Spike Lee of ‘racist hit’ against him in Oscars acceptance speech

President Donald Trump started his Monday by blasting director Spike Lee as “racist” in an early morning tweet following Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony.

Trump said Lee’s acceptance speech amounted to a “racist hit” against him.



Lee won his first Oscar Sunday night when “BlacKkKlansman” won best adapted screenplay (an award he shared with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott.)

In his acceptance speech, Lee referred to his family’s history in the U.S., which he said could be traced to the first slaves being brought over from Africa.

“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people,” Lee said. “We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”

He added that the 2020 presidential election was just “around the corner.”

“Let’s all mobilize,” he continued. “Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”

Lee did not mention Trump by name in his address.

“BlacKkKlansman” is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Taking place in the 1970s, Stallworth, alongside a veteran white colleague, Flip Zimmerman, set out to infiltrate and take down the Ku Klux Klan.

“BlacKkKlansman” is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Taking place in the 1970s, Stallworth, alongside a veteran white colleague, Flip Zimmerman, set out to infiltrate and take down the Ku Klux Klan.

The conclusion of the film features footage from the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a group of neo-Nazis and alt-right activists marched against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The marchers chanted slogans like “Jews will not replace us,” and one attendee drove into a group of counter-protesters, killing one.

The film then included Trump’s response to that rally, when he said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence.

“You had some very bad people in that group,” Trump said. “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Lee has been sharply critical of Trump during his presidency, nicknaming the president “Agent Orange” and saying Trump is “a man of hate, violence, and can’t be trusted to make moral decisions.”

[NBC News]

Donald Trump Blasts Jussie Smollett On Twitter: “What About MAGA?”

“What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments?” President Donald Trump asked Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who Chicago cops now say staged his own January assault Smollett had said was perpetrated by men wearing MAGA hats.

Smollett staged the hoax because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox series, and to promote his career,  according to “angry” Chicago Supt. Eddie Johnson at a Thursday morning presser carried on all the cable news networks and ABC News, which is now maybe wishing it had not scored that exclusive Smollett interview on Good Morning AMerica, when he was still pushing his victim of hate crime storyline.

Smollett turned himself in today at 5 AM Chicago time, after which Windy City police held a presser on the actor’s arrest.

Johnson said Smollett paid siblings Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 to participate in the phony attack.

The Empire actor, Johnson said, “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Trump, apparently exercised that MAGA wearers were not portrayed as victims here too, tweeted to that effect.

POTUS previously had joined in the chorus of politicos decrying the “attack” on the actor, when he got asked about it by CNN contributor April Ryan.

[Deadline]

Trump Gets Toe Tagged and Bagged by Black Twitter After ‘African-Americans Are Very Angry’ Tweet

In the CVS receipt-long list of people who should never speak on behalf of black folks, Donald Trump and Uncle Ruckus are engaged in a bloody duel for last place. But lo and behold, Melania’s Baby Daddy took to Twitter to come to our alleged rescue Sunday morning and speak on behalf of our collective outrage at all the blackface and sexual assault allegations pouring out of Virginia.

“African-Americans are very angry at the double standard on full display in Virgina!” he tweeted through a haze of hypocrisy, while resisting the undying urge to refer to us as “The Blacks”.

His tweet was in reference to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring’s apparent penchants for blackface and the widespread calls for each them to resign. In addition to Northam’s would-be successor, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, whose spent the past week being hammered by allegations of sexual assault by two women.

But again, this is Donald fucking Trump we’re talking about here. So Black Twitter politely declined his heroics and told him to go fuck himself in variety of colorful ways:

[The Root]

Betsy DeVos’ answer to school shooters is to mandate more unfair discipline for minorities

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be rolling back protections against unfair discipline for minority students, instead of pursuing gun control, The New York Times reported Monday.

“The Trump administration is planning to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at ensuring that minority children are not unfairly disciplined, arguing that the efforts have eased up on punishment and contributed to rising violence in the nation’s schools,” The Timesexplained.

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Trump had a “brief flirtation with gun control” before rejecting that approach and starting a school safety commission.

The commission was lead by DeVos and included former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Almost immediately, the commission turned away from guns, and instead scrutinized the Obama administration’s school discipline policies, though none of the most high-profile school shootings were perpetrated by black students,” The Times noted. “The documents obtained by The Times — a draft letter and a draft chapter of the safety commission’s research — focus significantly on race and promote the idea that the federal crackdown on potentially discriminatory practices has made schools more dangerous.”

Six documents included in the Obama administration’s “Rethink Discipline” approach are expected to be rescinded on Tuesday.

“The Obama administration policies were adopted after strong evidence emerged that minority students were receiving more suspensions and tougher punishments than white students for the same or lesser offenses, while disabled students were too quickly being shunted into remedial or special-education programs,” The Times added.

[Raw Story]

Trump to African American reporter: ‘You ask a lot of stupid questions’

President Trump on Friday criticized a question from CNN reporter Abby Phillip as “stupid” while speaking with reporters on the White House lawn on Friday.

In a gaggle with reporters, Trump was asked by Phillip if he was hoping that Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general appointed on Wednesday and a past critic of Robert Mueller‘s special counsel investigation, would “rein in” the Russia probe.

“Do you want [Whitaker] to rein in Robert Mueller?” Phillip asked.

“What a stupid question that is,” Trump responded. “What a stupid question.”

“But I watch you a lot,” the president continued. “You ask a lot of stupid questions.”

Declining to answer, Trump then walked away from the gaggle as Phillip and other reporters shouted questions in response.

Trump’s comments aimed at Phillip come as he increasingly feuds with CNN, the cable news network he has long battled.

Trump also called April Ryan, a contributor to the network, a “loser” on Friday. And he again criticized CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta, with whom he is feuding.

On Wednesday night, the White House suspended Acosta’s press pass after the reporter pressed Trump on his statements about a migrant caravan at a press conference earlier that day.

The White House then tweeted out an apparently doctored video first posted by the conspiracy site InfoWars to claim that Acosta physically struck a White House intern who was attempting to take his microphone.

Acosta’s arm briefly brushed the White House aide’s arm as she reached in to take his microphone, but Acosta did not put his hands on the aide.

“We will … never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”

CNN responded in a statement, stating that Sanders “lied” about the incident between Acosta and the intern, and used a “fraudulent” explanation to justify rescinding Acosta’s press pass.

“It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” the network said. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better.”

[The Hill]

Trump tells black reporter she’s ‘racist’ for asking him to renounce white nationalism

President Donald Trump accused African-American reporter Yamiche Alcindor of asking a “racist” question on Wednesday.

At a White House press conference, the PBS reporter wondered if the president was concerned that he is sending the wrong message by calling himself a “nationalist.”

“Some heard that as emboldening white nationalists,” Alcindor explained. “There are some people that say that now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric.”

“Why do I have the highest poll numbers ever with African-Americans?” Trump retorted. “My highest poll numbers — that’s such a racist question, honestly. I know you have it written down and you’re going to tell me — that’s a racist question.”

“I love our country, I do,” the president continued. “I don’t mind helping the world but we have to straighten out our country first and our problems.”

Trump added: “But to say what you said is so insulting to me, it’s a very terrible thing you said.”

[Raw Story]

‘Sit down!’ Trump berates CNN’s April Ryan as she tries to question him about voter suppression

In a lengthy press conference Wednesday following a Democratic takeover of the House, President Donald Trump denounced the Mueller investigation as a “disgrace” and shouted at several CNN reporters.

The president’s antipathy towards certain reporters was in full display. He repeatedly shut down CNN’s April Ryan when she tried to ask a question, refusing to cede the microphone to her.

“Will you please sit down?” he shouted at the CNN reporter. Ryan shook her head and took her seat.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump warns that migrants created ‘total mess’ in Europe

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said mass migration in Europe has created a “total mess” on the continent, warning that immigration advocates in the U.S. will regret their position — just as, he claimed without evidence, Europeans do.

“For those who want and advocate for illegal immigration, just take a good look at what has happened to Europe over the last 5 years,” Trump tweeted. “A total mess! They only wish they had that decision to make over again.”

Europe has seen a surge in migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East, over the past five years that has put a strain on countries like Greece and Italy that sit along the southern border of the European Union.

The influx of refugees has coincided with a rise of nationalism throughout Europe and has damaged the political standing of influential leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who initially welcomed refugees to her country with open arms.

“We are a great Sovereign Nation. We have Strong Borders and will never accept people coming into our Country illegally!” Trump wrote in a second tweet.

His comments come as a caravan of thousands of of migrants makes its way through southern Mexico en route to the U.S. and amid reports of a second asylum-seeking caravan forming in Guatemala.

The president has railed against the caravans at campaign rallies in recent days as proof that his hard-line immigration policies are warranted. In recent days, Trump has repeated and then backed off of baseless claims that there are “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” in the caravan and that the migrant groups have been paid by Democratic operatives.

The president has also threatened to cut off aid to countries that are unable to stop the caravan from continuing on its way, despite the fact that it is still far from the nearest point of entry to the U.S.

[Politico]

Reality

The Pew Research Center has found immigration concerns have largely fallen in Europe.

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