As Health Care Summit Begins, Where Do LGBT Provisions Stand?
February 25, 2010
Today, the White House will hold a bipartisan meeting on health reform to discuss how to move forward on legislation and debate the President’s proposal, an outline of key provisions for future health reform legislation, which was issued earlier this week. As noted in the press, the proposal appears to build on the Senate-passed bill, a measure that, unlike the bill passed by the House, does not contain key provisions for the LGBT community. As a reminder, the LGBT-specific provisions of the House bill were:
- Health Disparities – the bill specifically designates LGBT people as a health disparities population, opening up health data collection and grant programs focused on health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity. With collection of data and funding of research, we can better address the specific health issues facing LGBT people.
- Unequal Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefits – the bill ends the unfair taxation of employer-provided domestic partner health benefits, incorporating the language of the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act. Without this tax penalty, more people will be able to afford employer-provided coverage for their families, and more companies will be able to offer these important benefits.
- Early Treatment for HIV under Medicaid – the bill also incorporates the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which allows states to cover early HIV treatment under their Medicaid programs, instead of withholding treatment for Medicaid recipients until they develop full-blown AIDS, This will dramatically improve the quality of life for low-income people with HIV, as well as saving taxpayers money and reducing the transmission of the virus.
- Comprehensive Sex Education – the bill provides funding for comprehensive sex education programs that focus not only on abstinence, but also reducing teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. After more than $1 billion wasted on failed and discriminatory abstinence-only programs, this funding will provide youth, including LGBT students, with the tools they need to live healthy lives.
- Non-discrimination – the bill prohibits consideration of personal characteristics unrelated to the provision of health care. HRC worked with a coalition of civil rights groups to develop and lobby for this language and we believe it will help protect LGBT people from discrimination in the health care system, where there are currently no federal protections for our community.
Detailed legislative language has not been made public and we are working with Congress and the Administration to press that these important provisions should be part of the legislation that moves forward in Congress. Today’s summit is another opportunity that we’ll use to make the case that improving the health and well-being of LGBT people is part of this critical effort to make our health care system better and more affordable for all Americans.