Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2012 HHS LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee Report, which outlines accomplishments of the last year and sets new goals for the coming year.
The report was released in conjunction with June’s designation as LGBT Pride Month. The steps described in the report are vitally important to the LGBT community, including those relating to health coverage given that LGBT communities may be more likely to be uninsured or under-insured because of discrimination in the workplace and lack of relationship recognition.
“We made a commitment to ensure fairness in the health care system for all Americans, LGBT Americans included, and this report shows we are following through on that pledge,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Millions of LGBT Americans now have greater assurances that they will be treated with dignity and respect in our health care system.”
The report highlights how HHS has satisfied its 2011 objectives and otherwise advanced the health and well-being of LGBT Americans in many ways over the past year.
Key accomplishments from the past year include:
- Continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act has given Americans, including LGBT individuals, improved access to health coverage including vital preventive services, such as mammograms and HIV testing, with no co-pay or deductible.
- In addition, in 2014, more coverage options will be available through an expanded Medicaid program and New Affordable Insurance Exchanges, which cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Re-launching the website, www.stopbullying.gov, that contains specific information for LGBT youth to deal with bullies.
- Creation of an LGBT Youth Suicide task force, as well as funding to state and tribal suicide prevention programs.
- Awarding funding to the Fenway Institute to create national training programs for the nation’s community health centers on culturally competent LGBT health care.
In addition, the 2012 report describes how HHS will continue to work closely with the LGBT community and be responsive to their needs by:
- Supporting initiatives to reduce and stop smoking with special emphasis on high-risk populations, including LGBT youth.
- Continuing to address discrimination, harassment, and violence against all individuals through domestic violence resources and prevention programs.
- Funding pilot studies to identify and test innovative ways of reducing obesity in lesbian and bisexual women.
The 2012 report underscores HHS’s commitment to working to ensure that all Americans are able to access affordable, quality care that is sensitive to their unique health needs. The report also highlights how HHS initiatives have been designed to meet the needs of LGBT Americans across their lifespan, from training child welfare agencies to helping caregivers serve elderly LGBT individuals with compassion and sensitivity.
The HHS LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee is currently co-chaired by Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, Administrator of the Administration for Community Living and Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, and Deputy General Counsel Ken Choe.
For more information on the LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee 2012 Report, click here.