Observing LGBT Health Awareness Week

A statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

LGBT Health Awareness Week is an important time to bring attention to the unique health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and to highlight the progress we’ve made in our work to ensure LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans, especially through implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

It’s critical for the LGBT community and all Americans to remember that Monday, March 31 is the last day of open enrollment and those who miss out can’t get covered through the Marketplace until 2015.

Access to affordable care has long been an obstacle to good health and financial security for the LGBT community and all Americans.  On average, LGBT Americans suffer from higher rates of cancer, obesity, HIV/AIDS and mental illness than the rest of the nation. For those with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, dollar caps on annual and lifetime coverage meant astronomical bills and debt for many in the community.

But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is a new day. Lifetime and annual dollar caps are a thing of the past and no one can be denied coverage based on their health history.

Legally married couples are treated equally when it comes to coverage or financial assistance, no matter who they are married to.  And, for the first time, Marketplace coverage is now affordable for the LGBT community and Americans all over the country.

Remember: Monday, March 31 is the last day of enrollment – that’s only five days left to get everyone covered who still needs it.

This Administration is committed to improving the health of all Americans, including LGBT Americans, and we look forward to continuing this work during LGBT Health Awareness Week and beyond.
###

CDC estimates 1 in 88 U.S. Children in with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study released today that looked at data from 14 communities.  Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified.

The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah.  The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.

The report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas. It was published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“This information paints a picture of the magnitude of the condition across our country and helps us understand how communities identify children with autism,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “That is why HHS and our entire administration has been working hard to improve the lives of people living with autism spectrum disorders and their families by improving research, support, and services.”

“One thing the data tells us with certainty – there are more children and families that need help,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children.”

The results of CDC’s study highlight the importance of the Obama administration’s efforts to address the needs of people with ASDs, including the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The IACC’s charge is to facilitate ASD research, screening, intervention, and education.  As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health has invested in research to identify possible risk factors and effective therapies for people with ASDs.

Study results from the 2008 surveillance year show 11.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children have been identified as having an ASD.  This marks a 23 percent increase since the last report in 2009.  Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown.  “To understand more, we need to keep accelerating our research into risk factors and causes of autism spectrum disorders,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The study also shows more children are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in 1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. “Unfortunately, 40 percent of the children in this study aren’t getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We are working hard to change that,” said Boyle.

The most important thing for parents to do is to act quickly whenever there is a concern about a child’s development.

  • Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
  • Call your local early intervention program or school system for an assessment.
  • Remember you do not need a diagnosis to access services for your child.

To learn more about this study, visit www.cdc.gov/autism.

For information on CDC’s tools to help families track their child’s development, visitwww.cdc.gov/actearly

To learn more about the research CDC is doing on autism, visitwww.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/research.html.

To learn more about the Administration’s commitment to combating autism, visit http://www.hhs.gov/autism/factsheet_autism_support.htmlExternal Web Site Icon.

###

U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesExternal Web Site Icon

CDC works 24/7saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money to have a more secure nation.  Whether these threats are chronic or acute, manmade or natural, human error or deliberate attack, global or domestic, CDC is the U.S. health protection agency.

ADVOCACY: Reject Extreme Legislation Against Women

Yesterday, President Obama made an announcement that took the responsibility from certain religiously-affiliated employers and gave it to insurance companies for covering contraception with no co-pays or deductibles. This accommodation will protect women’s access to birth control and without extra cost, regardless of where they work. We will closely monitor the implementation of this new rule and work to make sure that all women have access to this essential health benefit.

However, opponents of birth control in Congress are still focused on taking away access to contraception introducing extreme legislation that threatens health across the board. The pieces of legislation range from allowing any employer, regardless of whether it is a religious entity, to deny coverage of contraception to giving employers the right to refuse coverage of any health care service they find religiously or morally objectionable.

They are playing politics with women’s health — and it would hurt everyone. Tell your Senators to reject all extreme legislation that would take away women’s access to birth control without a co-pay, and other needed health care.

What would happen if some of these bills became law?

  • Any employer could offer a plan that does not cover maternity care for unmarried women in its plan, claiming that such coverage violates its belief that sex and procreation are permissible only within the marital relationship. (Amendment No. 1520 sponsored by Senator Blunt, R-MO, also known as the “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
  • Any corporation whose CEO opposes contraception based on his “moral convictions” could deny all coverage of contraception or any other service to the company’s employees. Even more disturbing, a CEO’s view of “morality” could potentially include concern for the cost of a particular benefit. (S. 2092, also known as “The Manchin-Rubio Bill” and the “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
  • Any employer who objects to coverage of vaccines for children could deny this coverage to all employees. (The “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)

Help us stop the politics being played with women’s health. Tell your Senators to reject the politics to undermine women’s health and support critical preventive care for women, and for all Americans.

Providing women access to birth control should not be a political issue. Contraception has proven health benefits. The ability to determine the timing of a pregnancy can prevent a range of pregnancy complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and placental problems, among others. Moreover, women who wait for some time after delivery before conceiving their next child lower the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth, and small-for-size gestational age. Contraception means healthier mothers and families.

Ninety-eight percent of sexually active women in the U.S., regardless of their religious beliefs, use contraception at some point in their lives. And since many women must skip such preventive health care due to cost, it’s vital to make the care more affordable. It’s therefore critical that women get access to birth control without a co-pay or deductible, regardless of where they work.

We know that the fight will continue and it’s only by raising our voices together that we can we protect women’s health.

Judy Waxman
Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights
National Women’s Law Center 

Under the Reading Lamp — 2/8/2012


The Great Carbon Bubble

image03Bill McKibben, Op-Ed: “It’s no secret where this denialism comes from: the fossil fuel industry pays for it. (Of the 16 authors of the Journal article, for instance, five had had ties to Exxon.) Writers from Ross Gelbspan to Naomi Oreskes have made this case with such overwhelming power that no one even really tries denying it any more. The open question is why the industry persists in denial in the face of an endless body of fact showing climate change is the greatest danger we’ve ever faced.”


Right-Wing Media Aren’t Concerned About Helping the Poor, but They Sure Want to Help the Rich

image07News Analysis: As income disparities continue to increase, and the effective tax rate paid by the rich remains at historic lows, right-wing media figures work hard to make sure none of that changes. They routinely attack the poor and programs designed to assist them, while simultaneously extolling the rich and defending them against any attempt to get them to pay their fair share of taxes.


BP Made $3 Million an Hour In 2011, While Spill Victims Continued to Suffer

image01Rebecca Leber, News Report: “BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill is still affecting the lives of many Americans, particularly the tens of thousands that have not settled lawsuits with the company. Yet the company has bounced back from the billions it lost in the wake of the spill. BP announced today that its 2011 profit totaled $26 billion, a 114 percent jump from the year before, when the company’s ‘failure of supervision and accountability’ caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”


The Downward Mobility of the American Middle Class, and Why Mitt Romney Doesn’t Know

image06Robert Reich, Op-Ed: January’s increase in hiring is good news, but it masks a bigger and more disturbing story – the continuing downward mobility of the American middle class. Mitt Romney says he’s not concerned about the very poor because they have safety nets to protect them. He says he’s concerned about the middle class. Romney doesn’t seem to realize how much of the middle class is becoming poor.


Report Finds Millions of Families Three Months From Poverty

image05Susannah Nesmith, News Report: According to America’s Youngest Outcasts, a report by the National Center on Family Homelessness, 1.6 million children in the United States were homeless at some point in 2010, the most recent statistics available. During the recession, from 2007 to 2010, child homelessness spiked 38 percent nationwide. According to the 2011 Council on Homelessness report, Florida’s public school districts identified over 49,000 Florida school-age children as homeless during the 2009-2010 school year.


Debt, Toll Roads, and Patents

image11Dean Baker, Op-Ed: It’s budget time, again. This means that the deficit hawks will be out in force warning us about the devastating debt burden that we are passing on to our children. So that this Halloween fright gang doesn’t needlessly cause any kids to lose sleep, here’s what parents can tell their children. First, it is important to tell your kids that the national debt is not in any way a measure of intergenerational transfers from the young to the old. Debt is also an asset to the people who own the bonds.


Meet the Obscure Federal Regulator Who’s Not Helping Homeowners

image04Cora Currier, News Analysis: Last week, ProPublica and NPR raised questions about a risky investment strategy at Freddie Mac that would pay off if homeowners stayed trapped in expensive mortgages. It’s just the latest example of how government-owned Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have frustrated many by not putting homeowners first. Fannie and Freddie are required to help homeowners while earning profits so they can pay back the taxpayers who bailed them out.


The Citizens United Catastrophe

image02E.J. Dionne Jr., Op-Ed: We have seen the world created by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and it doesn’t work. Oh, yes, it works nicely for the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, especially if they want to shroud their efforts to influence politics behind shell corporations. It just doesn’t happen to work if you think we are a democracy and not a plutocracy.


Offshore Everywhere

image08Tom Engelhardt, Op-Ed: “Think of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden as a harbinger of and model for what’s to come. It was an operation enveloped in a cloak of secrecy. There was no consultation with the “ally” on whose territory the raid was to occur. It involved combat by an elite special operations unit backed by drones and other high-tech weaponry and supported by the CIA. A national boundary was crossed without either permission or any declaration of hostilities.”


Save the Babies

image09Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “After 20 years of delay forced by lobbyists for utilities, the Environmental Protection Agency finally came out in December with regulations to control the mercury emissions from power plants. Hallelujah — save the babies! But wait, the lovers of the unborn aren’t celebrating this move to stop industry from doing gratuitous damage to children’s IQs. Far from it. GOP lawmakers are now howling to overturn the EPA’s mercury regulations.”


The Battle for Vermont’s Health

image10Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “Health insurers were not able to stop the state’s drive last year toward a single-payer health care system, which insurers have spent millions to scare Americans into believing would be the worst thing ever. Despite the ceaseless spin, Vermont lawmakers last May demonstrated they could not be bought nor intimidated when they became the first in the nation to pass a bill that will probably establish a single-payer beachhead in the U.S.”


California’s Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional – Again

image12Mike Ludwig, Truthout: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a federal judge’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, setting the stage for a potential Supreme Court showdown that could set a national precedent on same-sex marriage.”

Opponents of Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, react after news of the ban being knocked down in court, outside the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, February 7, 2012. (Photo: Jim Wilson / The New York Times)