A new study published this month that looks at the origins, evolution and landscape of LGBTQ community health centers finds that while these health centers have historically been a major provider of various health services to LGBTQ people, there are significant gaps in the types of services offered and the geographical reach of these centers. The study identified 213 LGBT community health centers and found that they largely provided wellness programs and services, HIV/STI services and counseling services, with only 10 percent of the centers providing transgender care, pharmacy services or psychiatric services. Furthermore they found that these centers are largely concentrated in urban areas and along the coasts, with no centers operating in 13 states, leaving large segments of the LGBTQ population unable to access one of these centers.
While these LGBTQ health centers have historically and continue to play an important role in the delivery of health services to LGBTQ individuals, fortunately, they are not the only place that people can find LGBTQ specific services or culturally competent healthcare. Many healthcare systems have created their own LGBTQ specialty clinics and/or are integrating these services into their regular practices. For example in Cleveland, both the MetroHealth System and the Cleveland Clinic continue to expand their LGBTQ services. With this focus on LGBTQ health, it is not surprising that both Metro Health and Cleveland Clinic were among the 304 healthcare facilities from around the country that were designated as Leaders in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) 2017. The continued growth in participation in the HEI each year demonstrates that more mainstream healthcare facilities are committed to adopting the policies and practices that will make them LGBTQ inclusive healthcare providers.
Planned Parenthood health centers are another place that LGBTQ people frequently turn to to find inclusive and culturally competent care. Planned Parenthood provides safe, affordable care without judgment or stigma to 2.5 million people each year, including more than 4.2 million tests and treatments for STIs and more than 650,000 HIV tests and they are one of the country’s largest providers of care to transgender people. In rural and isolated areas the local Planned Parenthood may be the only place to find this type of care. Unfortunately, the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seeks to defund Planned Parenthood.
Defunding Planned Parenthood is not the only way that the effort to repeal the ACA will impact LGBTQ people. The current version of the bill will cause an estimated 22 to 32 million people to lose their health insurance, including many LGBTQ people and people with HIV who gained access to coverage through the expansion of Medicaid. While we must continue to expand the places that LGBTQ people can find inclusive health services, we must first defeat efforts to repeal the ACA, because without health insurance LGBTQ people will have a hard time accessing any health services.
Join HRC as we call on Senators to reject this dangerous attempt to undermine health care access and preserve the incredible gains the LGBTQ community has made under the Affordable Care Act. All you need to do is text “SAVE ACA” to 30644 and we’ll get you connected.