Bill Aimed at Ending LGBT Health Disparities Introduced in House

by HRC Staff

Legislation eliminates barriers which impede access to affordable, quality health care for LGBT people.

Washington - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, today lauded the introduction of the first bill to comprehensively address the health needs of LGBT Americans. The Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act (EHDLA), sponsored by Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Henry Waxman (D-CA), would eliminate the barriers which impede access to affordable, quality health care for LGBT people.

"A decade ago, federal health officials recognized the health status of lesbians and gays lagged behind the majority of Americans," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "This bill takes the necessary steps to address health disparities for the entire LGBT community which have been overlooked for far too long."

EHDLA seeks to address the inequities facing LGBT people across the spectrum of health care. First and foremost, it addresses the lack of information about the overall health of LGBT people, or research on chronic conditions which affect them, that have limited efforts to improve the health status of the community. To remedy this problem, EHDLA would require federal health surveys and programs to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity. The data would provide invaluable information on the health of LGBT individuals.

In addition to addressing the issue of data collection, EHDLA incorporates key pieces of HRC's legislative agenda related to LGBT health issues, including measures to provide health benefits to the partners of federal employees, address the unequal taxation of employer-provided domestic partner health benefits, and ensure Medicaid recipients have early access to critical treatment for HIV. The bill also creates inclusive non-discrimination policies for federal health programs and extends Medicare benefits to same-sex partners, funds training on LGBT health issues for health care providers and supports health centers that serve the LGBT community, and establishes the Office of LGBT Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

"EHDLA will eliminate the gaps in coverage and barriers to care experienced by LGBT Americans. We salute Representative Baldwin for her leadership on these issues and call on Congress to make them part of the broader efforts to reform our health care system," said Solmonese.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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