HHS reports advances in LGBT health care in 2016
In its annual report, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cited its major accomplishments in 2016 to push for better LGBT health care.
In particular, the HHS has pushed back on the discrimination against the LGBT community– especially those with HIV and AIDS– as well as gathering more data to implement better LGBT health care.
Progress with LGBT health care
For 2016, the HHS accomplished three major steps to help LGBT individuals. These results are part of their efforts in the past six years to increase non-discrimination protection and improve awareness and understanding of LGBT health and human services.
For this year, the HHS has managed to set up the rules of the non-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACT) protecting people against discrimination on the basis of sex (including gender identity and sex stereotyping)
They also recognized the LGBT as a health disparity population to boost research and data-gathering.
“It is important to reflect on how far we have come,” noted Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in the HHS cover letter in their report.
“Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, cancer patients, transgender people, and those living with HIV could all be denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition. The Defense of Marriage Act was still in effect, and LGBT people could be barred from seeing their loved ones even as they lay dying in the hospital,” Burwell said.
But with the ACA, over 20 million people now have health care coverage while giving improved access to care and coverage for LGBT individuals and families, the health chief said.
The future of LGBT health care
Burwell admitted that there is still a lot of work to be done as “we continue to see profound health disparities throughout LGBT communities, especially among people of color and those who are transgender.”
She pointed out that that LGBT youth are “at higher risk of bullying and harassment, substance use, physical and sexual violence, and suicidality.”
She likewise warned that if the current disparity rates at the intersection of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity go on, one in two black men and one in four Latino men who have sex with other men (MSM) in the US will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime.
The HHS hopes to address this through improved data collection, policies, initiatives, programs, and a stronger focus on LGBT research for a better understanding of the health disparities.
Likewise, the department will seek to minimizes barriers to access as well as ensuring discrimination against LGBT isn’t tolerated.
“Looking ahead, HHS will continue to work to deliver meaningful and measurable impact for the LGBT community, and will take the necessary steps to make sure LGBT health and human services work is an integral part of the Department’s mission over the long term,” Burwell said.