The Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” does a lot to help gay men, lesbians, transgender and bisexual Americans, and our families. If the Supreme Court ends up declaring Obamacare or any portion of it unconstitutional, all Americans, and especially minorities, will be grossly, negatively affected. And for the recored, the Obama administration has announced they are embracing the term, “Obamacare.”
Today, Kellan Baker, a Health Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress (CAP), posted this list, the “Top 10 Things Health Reform Does for Gay and Transgender Americans,” and quotes Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusas saying, “The Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.” Baker adds, “We should all be fighting to protect it.” Agreed!
And before you get to the list, a quick note: Joan McCarter at Daily Kos last week noted, “States fighting Affordable Care Act have highest populations of uninsured.” Of course!
Here is CAP’s list of the Top 10 Things Health Reform Does for Gay and Transgender Americans, including abbreviated descriptions. Please visit the Center For American Progress for more details. Our thanks for their excellent analysis.
1. Data collection to better understand LGBT health disparities:
In June 2011 Secretary Sebelius announced a plan for including sexual orientation and gender identity in national data collection efforts starting in 2013, in addition to the law’s required categories of race, ethnicity, primary language, sex, and disability status.
2. Patient’s Bill of Rights to end insurance company abuses
As of 2014 it also prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition such as HIV or a transgender medical history and from arbitrarily canceling a sick person’s coverage.
3. Expansion of public insurance coverage
The new national eligibility threshold also eliminates the disability requirement for Medicaid coverage for people living with HIV.
4. Expansion of private insurance coverage
The law also requires every state to put in place a health insurance exchange starting in 2014. The exchanges will offer subsidies that make it possible for small employers and individuals who make between $15,000 and $43,000 per year to purchase affordable private coverage. Exchanges may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in any of their activities, and all exchange plans must offer comprehensive benefits across 10 essential health benefit categories, including prescription drugs, hospital stays, and mental and behavioral health services.
5. Coverage of preventive care
Under the Affordable Care Act all Medicare beneficiaries receive free annual checkups, and insurance companies may not charge copays or other fees for preventive services that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Of particular importance for gay and transgender people, these services include HIV and other sexually transmitted infection testing, depression screening, vaccinations, tobacco-use screening, and cholesterol and high blood pressure screening.
6. Easy-to-find information about health care reform and you
This website (also in Spanish), which was one of the consumer-friendly reforms the Affordable Care Act required, is the one-stop shop the Department of Health and Human Services maintains for all things related to health care reform. … Same-sex couples, many of whom do not have access to health insurance through their own or their partner’s employer, can use a built-in filter to find plans offering coverage for domestic partners.
7. A diverse and culturally competent health care workforce
What’s more, a new $11 billion fund supports new community health centers and expansion of existing centers, and the law requires the exchanges to ensure access to “essential community providers,” including community health centers that have expertise providing care to underserved populations such as the gay and transgender community.
8. Services for people living with HIV or AIDS
A major aspect of the Affordable Care Act is making prescription drugs more affordable, which will help people living with HIV or AIDS afford the medications they need. The law phases out the Medicare Part D “donut hole” by 2020 and requires pharmaceutical companies to provide a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole. It also allows ADAP, or the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, contributions to count toward Medicare Part D’s True Out of Pocket Spending Limit, which will help people with HIV move out of the donut hole more quickly.
9. Nondiscrimination protections
Section 1557 …protections include the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which protect individuals living with HIV or AIDS, and Title IX of the education amendments of 1972, which offer protections on the basis of sex. A national trend in case law interprets Title IX to include gender identity and sex stereotyping, though not sexual orientation. The Equal Opportunity Employment policies at several federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, also include gender identity under sex protections.
10. Community-based prevention programs
According to the National Prevention Strategy, which was created under the Affordable Care Act, “all Americans should have the opportunity to live long, healthy, independent, and productive lives, regardless of their … sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics.”
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.