HHS Announces New Data Collection Plan To ‘Fully Understand And Meet The Needs’ Of The LGBT Community

Sexual orientation and gender identity questions are not currently asked on most national or state health surveys, and that lack of standardized data collection makes it “difficult to estimate the number of LGBT individuals and their health needs” and severely “hampers both government and community-based efforts to identify, track, and address health disparities among LGBT people.” But today, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a plan to change all that. For the first time, the federal government will start to “integrate questions on sexual orientation into national data collection efforts by 2013 and begin a process to collect information on gender identity.” The new effort is the result of section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act:

The proposed standards for collection and reporting of data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status in population health surveys are intended to help federal agencies refine their population health surveys in ways that will help researchers better understand health disparities and zero in on effective strategies for eliminating them. […]

“These new data standards, once finalized, will help us target our research and tailor stronger solutions for underserved and minority communities,” added HHS Director of the Office of Minority Health, Dr. Garth Graham. “To fully understand and meet the needs of our communities, we must first thoroughly understand who we are serving.”

“Data really drives everything. You can’t have a conversation about priorities, about funding, about where attention should be about, about what we should be working on unless we have the data to show what the issues are,” CAP’s Kellan Baker told the Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner. Baker will offer a comprehensive analysis of the proposed rules in this space tomorrow. To read his report on LGBT health and the Affordable Care Act click here.

LGBT advocates and health organizations have long lobbied for comprehensive data collection. Professional bodies such as the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Psychological Association have all “issued statements in support of standardized data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity.”