Our guest blogger is Zachary Britt, an intern for the LGBT Progress program at the Center for American Progress.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius celebrated the progress in LGBT health with her opening remarks before the National Coalition for LGBT Health at their annual meeting yesterday. The National Coalition for LGBT Health was formed 10 years ago when health advocates came together to improve the health and well-being of the LGBT population. Sebelius highlighted some of the progress in LGBT health equality over the past decade:
– Greater inclusion of the LGBT population into the goals of Healthy People 2020
– A ruling that any hospital accepting Medicare or Medicaid must provide all patients, including those with same-sex partners, the right to choose who can visit them in the hospital
– A HHS non-discrimination policy that prohibits HHS employees from discriminating against anyone eligible for the department’s programs on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
– The release of HHS recommendations for providing the best possible care in shelters for homeless LGBT youth
– The development of the LGBT Data Progression Plan that integrates questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity into HHS national surveys, facilitating greater data collection on the LGBT community
The LGBT Data Progression Plan has been a particularly great stride forward, since improved data collection is critical to understanding and addressing health care disparities. The plan will help HHS determine if the LGBT community should be designated a “health disparity population,” which would provide important resources for tackling inequality and establish LGBT health as a specific subsection of Healthy People 2020. Better data of the LGBT population will also ensure that LGBT interests are equally addressed in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.