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WASHINGTON - LGBT Americans are facing an increasingly harsh choice between healthcare facilities that have policies that guarantee them equal care, and those that have consistently failed to take steps to ensure all patients receive inclusive, compassionate and respectful care, according to a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.
HRC is calling on the federal government to take action to solve this endemic problem by requiring that facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements adopt patient non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Pervasive discrimination divides this country into two Americas -- one America that treats LGBT people fairly, and other that does not,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “It's essential that the government take bold action to close this healthcare equality divide. Studies show that an alarmingly high number of LGBT people --especially transgender Americans -- experience discrimination by healthcare professionals that undermines or prevents medically-necessary care.”
HRC Foundation’s 2014 Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) found that too many hospitals continue to fall short in providing vital patient non-discrimination protections.
This year, HRC independently researched hundreds of hospitals that declined to participate in the HEI, which for seven years has assessed how well health care facilities are treating LGBT patients and employees. It found most fell far short of full LGBT patient equality -- yet still collect taxpayer money through healthcare reimbursements.
Griffin called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to require that all healthcare facilities receiving federal reimbursement have in place uniform patient non-discrimination policies that specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity, and also protect LGBT patients from harassment and abuse. And he urged CMS to encourage healthcare facilities to also include such protections in their employment policies.
HRC has consistently advocated for the inclusion of these vital protections within CMS regulations and will not stop until all LGBT patients are treated with respect and dignity regardless of where they receive medical care.
“It is time to make this simple change in federal policy,” Griffin said. “Taking action to require LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies at these hospitals will play a key role in ending the health disparities that plague the LGBT community.”
In its effort to broaden the information it collects to facilities that have declined to participate in the HEI survey, the HRC Foundation independently researched more than 500 facilities. The research revealed that:
· Only half had employment non-discrimination policies that included both sexual orientation and gender identity
· Of those with patient non-discrimination policies, 72 percent contained sexual orientation protections, but only 52 percent included protections for gender identity, leaving transgender patients particularly vulnerable to inequitable treatment
· More than 20 percent failed to incorporate patient non-discrimination and equal visitation information on the facility’s website
The good news? The number of active HEI participants continues to grow, and their leaders are striving to meet HRC’s criteria for equal treatment of LGBT patients, as well as employees, and are succeeding. A record 507 facilities actively participated in the 2014 HEI, and 426 earned the HRC Foundation’s “Leader In LGBT Healthcare Equality” distinction.
“These facilities are doing amazing work to enact and support inclusive policies,” said HRC Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer Jeff Krehely. “They have proven that they are not only committed to the equal treatment of their LGBT patients, but their LGBT employees as well.”
To be designated a “Leader,” facilities must meet the HEI’s “core four” criteria: both a fully- LGBT inclusive patient and employment non-discrimination policy, an explicit policy on equal LGBT patient visitation rights, and staff trained in LGBT patient care.
The number of HEI “Leader” facilities, those meeting at minimum the core four, doubled this year. And many are going well beyond the survey's criteria to do right by all their patients and workers by adopting additional HRC-recommended best practices, including offering employees trans-inclusive health coverage.
“It’s clear that most hospitals want to do better in terms of LGBT inclusion, but often don’t know what steps they need to take,” said Tari Hanneman, author of the report. “They can turn to the HEI for a simple road map to LGBT inclusion.”
“For that matter,” she said, “so can the federal government.”
A pdf version of the report can be found here.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of 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.
Just the Facts: From the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) Report
The HEI since 2008 has assessed healthcare facilities on how committed they are to providing equal care to LGBT patients and their families.
This year, through our voluntary survey and our own independent research, we found more and more hospitals dedicating themselves to fully respectful, compassionate care for all.
But too many are continuing to fall far short of that inclusiveness standard, which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Many gains have been made; much work remains.
The good news:
● More than 500 healthcare facilities voluntarily completed the 2014 HEI survey, and more than 96 percent were found to have fully inclusive LGBT patient andemployment non-discrimination, as well as equal visitation policies
● HRC is recognizing 426 healthcare facilities with the coveted “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” designation, double the number of Leaders named last year. Leaders must meet the HEI’s “core four” criteria: fully LGBT inclusive patient, employment and visitation non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity; and staff training in inclusive care
● More than one-third of the 2014 Leaders achieved that designation for the first time this year, proving that more and more facilities are striving to meet the HEI’s criteria for equal care for all
● The HEI’s reach is increasingly nationwide, with at least seven facilities in each state rated this year, and more than 10 in most.
The bad news:
● Only half of the healthcare facilities independently researched by HRC where policies were found had patient and employment non-discrimination policies that included both sexual orientation and gender identity
● Of those researched facilities that had patient non-discrimination policies, 72 percent contained sexual orientation protections, but only 52 percent included protections for gender identity, leaving transgender patients particularly vulnerable to inequitable treatment
● More than 20 percent of the researched facilities failed to incorporate patient non-discrimination and equal visitation information on the facility’s website
● Healthcare facilities receiving federal reimbursement are not currently required to have uniform patient non-discrimination policies that specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity, and also protect LGBT patients from harassment and abuse.
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