Optimizing LGBT Health Under the Affordable Care Act


Strategies for Health Centers

By National LGBT Health Education Center and Center for American Progress
Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) is expected to expand insurance coverage to millions of Americans starting this year. Among those most in need of access to affordable health insurance and high-quality health services are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Research has shown that many LGBT Americans, particularly same-sex couples, transgender people, and those living with HIV, have difficulty accessing insurance and are disproportionately likely to lack coverage.  This brief explains how the Affordable Care Act will benefit LGBT Americans, particularly through better data collection, stronger nondiscrimination policies, a new essential health benefits standard and other insurance reforms, and coverage expansions. Part 1 provides an overview of the issues, while Part 2 discusses how America’s health centers, which are integral to efforts to enroll uninsured people, can deploy effective strategies for reaching LGBT people.

Read more here …

See Also: Fact Sheets on the Affordable Care Act and LGBT Communities

Asking Patients Questions about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Clinical Settings

By The Fenway Institute and Center for American Progress
The Institute of Medicine, the U.S. government’s Healthy People 2020 strategy, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations are among many entities that have recommended asking sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) questions in clinical settings and including such data in Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Many health care providers are in the process of considering how to do this. In order to better understand how a diverse group of people would respond when these questions are asked, several hundred patients at four health centers across the United States were surveyed about asking SOGI questions in their health center.  This study found wide patient support for the importance of SOGI data and demonstrated the feasibility of collecting SOGI data using existing question designs.

Read more …

Center for American ProgressThis material [the articles above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Obamacare: Signed, Sealed, Delivering …

Watch the Obamacare videos & get the facts

Obamacare is making health care work better for all of us, even if you already have insurance. It puts the health of your family first—ensuring access to free preventive care and protecting consumers from insurance company abuses.

71 Million Kids & Adults With Private Insurance Have Received No-Cost Preventive Care.
“HHS estimates that, as a result of the ACA, 71 million children and adults with private insurance, and 34 million Medicare beneficiaries have received no-cost preventive care. Enhanced federal matching funds in Medicaid are available to states providing all USPSTF-recommended preventive benefits without cost-sharing, but, to date, few states have made the changes required to gain the higher match rate.” “Health Reform-The Affordable Care Act Three Years Post-Enactment,” Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2013.
Discrimination By Insurance Companies For Children With Pre-Existing Conditions Was Banned.
“Coverage exclusions for children with pre-existing conditions were prohibited as of September 23, 2010. Insurers are no longer permitted to deny coverage to children due to their health status, or exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Protections for adults will take effect in 2014. In addition, lifetime limits on coverage in private insurance have been eliminated and annual limits are being phased out.” “Health Reform-The Affordable Care Act Three Years Post-Enactment,” Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2013.
Consumers Received $1.1 Billion in Rebates From Their Insurance Companies.
“Insurance companies that don’t spend at least 80 percent of its customers’ premium dollars on health care are required to provide rebates to policy holders. In 2012, the first year this rule was implemented, 12.8 million consumers received $1.1 billion in rebates.” “Health Reform in Action,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed 6/5/13.
3.1 Million More Young Adults Have Health Insurance Through Their Parent’s Plan.
“Under the law, most young adults who can’t get coverage through their jobs can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.” “Health Reform in Action,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed 6/5/13.
Seniors Have Saved More Than $6.1 Billion on Their Prescription Drugs Since 2010.
“Seniors who hit the gap in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, often called the ‘donut hole’ now receive 50 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs. The new health reform law will provide additional savings each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.” “Health Reform in Action,” WhiteHouse.gov, accessed 6/5/13.

SB192: They Hope You Don’t Care About Reproductive Freedom

A few legislators want to weaken Nevada’s strong laws protecting reproductive freedom, and they’re doing it by claiming they’re protecting religion. The Religious Freedom Preservation bill (Senate Bill 192), which passed in the Senate and is now in the Assembly, would allow health care providers to deny needed services to patients because of their personal views about race, religion, gender, social status, and type of illness or injury.

Should your health needs be subject to a religious test?  That would be a definite, “NO!”

 Tell your Nevada Assemblyperson that health care providers cannot use religion to discriminate against patients.

We’ve asked the supporters of this bill why Nevada needs these so-called religious protections. We have not received an answer. Maybe it’s because religious freedom is currently well-protected under state and federal law. On the other hand, we have seen numerous real-life attempts to use laws like this to deny access to health care in other states:

  • Pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception because it is “dangerous” or “not right” for women
  • Doctors and entire hospitals refusing to terminate pregnancies, even to save the life of the mother
  • A hospital denying HIV medication to a patient because of his sexual orientation
  • Dozens of companies suing to escape the contraceptive provisions of President Obama’s health care program

Health care professionals’ primary concern must be a patient’s welfare. Their job is to provide needed health care services, not to impose their personal, religious beliefs on their patients.

Urge your Assemblyperson to protect access to health care that is free from discrimination. Ask them to oppose this troubling and unnecessary bill.

In liberty,

Vanessa Spinazola
Legislative Director
ACLU of Nevada

Ryan Budget – Bad for Veterans

Shared from VoteVets.org

Much has been said over the past few weeks about the budget proposal in the House of Representatives, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, and backed by Republican members, but not much has been said about how it will affect our veterans.  As you know, the Paul Ryan plan will end Medicare, making it a voucher program, leaving seniors to buy their own insurance in the private system.  It will therefore end one of the most popular and successful initiatives ever offered.

This plan will also punish veterans – harshly – and it’s important that you spread the word on how it will do so.

Here are the facts:

  • Millions of veterans over 65 rely on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance for their health care. In fact, according to the last survey of veterans by the Department of Veterans’ affairs, 39.3% of veterans use Medicare, compared with 14 percent of the general population.
  • Many of these veterans are relying on Medicare as their sole health care provider.  The Ryan plan would have an immediate impact on these veterans, forcing those falling into the “donut hole” with high-cost prescription drug costs to pay more for their medications in addition to paying more for preventative health services.
  • Veterans who rely on Medicaid would not escape cuts either. The Republican plan could slash $1.4 trillion in health benefits over the next ten years. Forty-four states are already facing significant budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2012,and the cuts could force the state to either ration health care benefits for veterans across the country, restrict eligibility rules and leave thousands uninsured, including veterans, or raise taxes to cover the shortfall.
  • Finally, many veterans rely on private insurance, mostly through their employer. Because Republicans want to repeal the recent health insurance law, these veterans will no longer have guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions and may see annual or lifetime caps on coverage under the Republican budget.

In short, Republicans and Paul Ryan will strip away care for our veterans, in the name of budget cutting.  These proposals are draconian, cruel, and unfair to those men and women who put their lives on the line for this country.  But, unless we spread the word about how severely the Ryan/Republican plan will hurt veterans, most Americans won’t ever know.

Take some time to read their propaganda and get to know what they’re trying to do.  Be an informed voter, not someone who swallowed their propaganda, hook, line and anchor.

2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Road-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunities 2009 Road to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

Read/compare a few to see what you think — and if you’d like you can compare the actual budget numbers between plans here.

Banksters Rip Apart Spanish Health Care

Thom Hartmann, The Daily Take | Op-Ed

Protesters demonstrate against the regional government's plans to privatize health care services in Madrid, Spain, December 9, 2012.Protesters demonstrate against the regional government’s plans to privatize health care services in Madrid, Spain, December 9, 2012. (Photo: rafa_luque)According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s latest health care rankings of the 34 most developed nations in the world, the United States ranks dead last in male life expectancy.

We also rank near the very bottom in preventing premature death, infant mortality, total health care coverage, number of practicing doctors, and preventing heart disease deaths.

But, here’s some good news (at least for those fans of Americanized health care): our world rankings might soon improve.

Not because we’re radically changing our privatized system that puts profits ahead of people’s lives. But because banksters in Europe are forcing several nations that rank ahead of us to ditch their national public health care systems, and replace them with more privatized (and profitable) American-style health care systems.

And, despite what conservatives say about how the American health care system is the envy of the rest of the world, those Europeans who are watching banksters re-make their public health care systems are outraged.

On Sunday, protests swept across Spain, with thousands of doctors, nurses, and health professionals demonstrating against new conservative austerity measures that will privatize more than 40 public hospitals and care centers.

Spain, like Greece, is indebted to the very foreign banksters who crashed their economy. And rather than telling those foreign banksters to take a hike like Iceland did, Spain’s austerity-happy government is paying off the banksters by taking money from working people through cutting socials services like health care.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy argues the health care reforms will save his nation more than $9 billion this year, which can then be given to the banksters.

But, as one protesting nurse, Emilia Becares, told France 24 News, "There is no study that shows that privatising the management of hospitals leads to lower costs. This privatisation hurts patients’ health care to benefit other interests."

Those "other interests" are, of course, the banksters and the for-profit healthcare hustlers.

The United States proves Emilia right. Privatization here has produced the highest health care costs of anywhere else in the developed world; the United States spends far more money on health care than any other OECD nation. And, although the banksters and the health care hustlers are making a fortune, average working people are dying at rates that shock the rest of the world: we rank near the bottom in health care outcomes.

So while conservative technocrats in charge of Spain are willing to use health care privatization to solve their short-term deficit woes, doing so will only make them worse over the long term.

Soon, Spanish hospitals, run for a profit, will decide if prescribing certain treatments and medical tests will boost or cut their quarterly profit goals. Spanish citizens, who used to have a right to health care, will now have to haggle with privatized corporate death panels that are more focused crunching numbers than saving lives.

As prices go up, preventative care will decline. There will be fewer visits to doctors. And the overall health of the population will plummet with the moneychangers in charge.

This means that over the long term the cost of healthcare to Spain will go up.

This is what Greece is now dealing with, since their public health care system was ripped apart by the banksters in 2011. Prior to the crisis, Greeks enjoyed complete universal health care. But when the banksters shook down the entire nation, they targeted the health care system, and told unemployed Greeks that they now have to pay for healthcare out of pocket. And if they don’t have the money, then…well…too bad.

Greek doctor, Kostas Syrigos, told the New York Times about a woman with a tumor the size of an orange that had broken through her skin because she couldn’t afford to see a doctor after the austerity cuts to health care.

Dr. Syrigos said, "Things like that are described in textbooks, but you never see them because until now; anybody who got sick in this country could always get help…In Greece right now, to be unemployed means death."

Sick and unemployed Americans face the same fate. According to a 2009 Harvard study, 45,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance. And half of all bankruptcies in America are due to medical bills.

Most of the public health care systems across Europe were created after World War II, as the people understood that they needed to rebuild together, and should at the very least be providing free health care to each other, too.

But, the United States, triumphant after World War II, never learned this lesson. Instead, we handed the care of our citizens off to corporations and billionaires, and are today paying dearly for it with budget-busting health care costs, sick populations, and far too many premature deaths. But our healthcare banksters, like the CEOs of United Healthcare, are literally billionaires.

And those models for health care reform across the Atlantic are now disappearing one-by-one – the latest victims of conservatives and their bankster austerity programs. But at least in places like Greece and Spain, the people are putting up a fight against these profiteers. And it’s a fight that’s long overdue in America.

We should all ask ourselves why is it that thousands are taking to the streets to defend their public health care systems in Europe, but not once has there been a legitimate rally in America to defend our privatized health care system that kills tens of thousands of American every single year. Deep down inside, we know we’re getting ripped off. Just like the Greeks and the Spaniards know they’re getting ripped off.

Let’s hope that the decision banksters made to target universal health care rights in Europe will inspire a new struggle in the United States that affirms we are indeed our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers.

— This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.


Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture,  syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 2oo community TV stations.  You can also listen or watch Thom over the Internet.