HRC Blog

A Look Back at Healthcare Equality Milestones in 2012

Flag2012 has been a great year for healthcare equality!  The Human Rights Campaign has worked alongside Congress, the White House, and other advocates to improve the health and well-being of LGBT Americans.  Here is a snapshot of this success:

Protecting LGBT Older Adults

As a result of advocacy by HRC and SAGE, the Administration on Aging (AoA) released important new FAQ guidance that clarifies that LGBT older adults can and should be served by the programs the Administration funds.  The AoA provides grant funding to States and territories as well as nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and academic institutions that offer programs serving older adults.  AoA also funds resource centers that provide information to consumers and professionals working to develop and implement effective programs and services for older adults.

This guidance clarifies that the current definition of “greatest social need” allows communities to identify populations in their service area that experience isolation for cultural, social, or geographic reasons, including older adults with increased needs based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This FAQ empowers the aging networks that serve LGBT older adults and receive AoA funding to consider this vulnerable population as one with a “greatest social need.”  This designation will encourage Area Agencies on Aging to include LGBT older adults when prioritizing funding, engaging in outreach, evaluating unmet need, and collecting data.

Developing New Health & Aging Initiatives

Shane Snowdon, Founding Director of the Center for LGBT Health & Equity at the University of California San Francisco, joined HRC this year to head the new Health & Aging Program. A noted LGBT health expert, she will oversee expansion of the Healthcare Equality Index, creation of a Long-term Care Equality Index, and a host of other initiatives to improve the health and well-being of LGBT people, particularly elders.

Expanding the Reach of the Healthcare Equality Index

This year, HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index achieved a 40 percent increase in the number of health care facilities participating in the survey, secured a 162 percent increase in those which became Leaders in Healthcare Equality by achieving a perfect rating, and trained over 1,200 senior hospital administrators in LGBT care. At the release of this year’s HEI, HRC hosted Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Washington, DC.  At the event, Secretary Sebelius announced the release of a new HHS Progress Report on LGBT Health.

Engaging in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will serve as a major step toward ending health disparities among LGBT Americans by increasing access to healthcare and insurance, lifting preexisting condition limitations, and prohibiting discrimination in insurance exchanges based on gender identity or expression.  HRC is engaged in the implementation of the ACA with HHS and will continue to partner with HHS and other advocates to ensure that this new law lives up to its potential.

Participating in the Global HIV/AIDS Discussion

As part of this year’s International AIDS Conference, HRC hosted a panel discussion titled, “Addressing Stigma in Transgender and other HIV-Vulnerable Communities.”  The event was held at the HRC building. HRC partnered with the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC); International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  The presentations highlighted issues relating to epidemiology, treatment and access to care for HIV-vulnerable communities, and stigma among HIV-positive individuals.  Shane Snowdon, HRC’s Director for Health and Aging, spoke about the HEI and its use as a tool for expanding access to care for LGBT individuals. HRC also participated in the White House briefing and discussion on HIV/AIDS within the LGBT community, the Black Gay and Bisexual Men's HIV/AIDS Summit hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine Workshop on LGBT Inclusion in Electronic Health Records, and numerous national, state and local meetings on LGBT health.

Working Toward Expanding Access to Organ Donations for HIV-Positive Patients

HRC continues to be at the forefront of the coalition working to end the ban on transplanting organs from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive patients.  HIV-positive individuals are now living longer and like their HIV-negative counterparts may develop health conditions requiring organ transplants. While HIV- positive individuals have access to organs from uninfected donors, the waiting lists are long.  Allowing HIV-positive patients to obtain organs from donors who are also HIV-positive would save thousands of lives each year, and dramatically reduce the waiting time for other patients in need of organ transplants.  HRC has worked to educate Congressional offices about the benefits, in dollars and lives, of HIV-positive organ donation.  A bill addressing this issue is expected to be introduced early next session with bipartisan support.

Collaborating to Highlight LGBT Tobacco Use

HRC collaborated with the Legacy Foundation to present a groundbreaking discussion of LGBT smoking rates, which are far higher than those among the general population. The event, held at the HRC building and moderated by Shane Snowdon, was well-attended online and in-person, and has been archived for future viewing.  

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