Department Of Health And Human Services Releases Recommended Actions For Advancing LGBT Health

Today Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius joined nationwide celebrations of LGBT Pride Month with the release of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) LGBT Coordinating Committee Report. The report lays out nine objectives for advancing LGBT health in areas such as research, health care reform, cultural competency, nondiscrimination, and funding for programs serving LGBT communities.

The HHS LGBT Coordinating Committee co-chairs, Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator for Community Living Kathy Greenlee, and HHS Deputy Counsel Ken Choe, presented the HHS LGBT health objectives for 2012:

  1. The National Institutes of Health will release a report that identifies the gaps and opportunities in its research portfolios in light of the recommendations from the 2011 Institute of Medicine report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.
  2. Through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) will award up to eight grants to organizations to connect transgender women of color with HIV prevention and care services.
  3. Building on the Department’s existing anti-obesity efforts, the HHS Office on Women’s Health will fund pilot studies in five locations to identify effective ways of reducing obesity in lesbian and bisexual women. The focus will be on women with risk factors for conditions that are caused by obesity, such as hypertension and diabetes.
  4. Several Community Transformation Grant awardees under the Affordable Care Act included LGBT communities among their target populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will work with these grantees, including by providing additional funds, to assess the benefits of chronic disease prevention and health promotion programs for LGBT communities.
  5. For the first time, CDC will release data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey on sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence by sexual orientation. CDC will also provide resources to bring broader attention to these concerns.
  6. Building on the Department’s existing tobacco control efforts, the Food and Drug Administration will launch multiple advertising programs targeted to youth and young adults, including LGBT youth, who are at risk of using tobacco.
  7. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and HRSA will develop a plan to disseminate existing tools to behavioral health and primary care practitioners to help them assess, treat, and refer LGBT clients in a culturally competent manner.
  8. The Administration for Children and Families will take steps to establish LGBT-inclusive requirements for all runaway homeless youth program grantees. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation will disseminate information about LGBT runaway and homeless youth on and will conduct research on the needs of LGBT homeless youth.
  9. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Administration for Community Living will release a training video about the rights of LGBT older Americans in nursing homes, hospice, and home health care. In addition, CMS will clarify its rules governing nursing home visitation rights, which are already in place and apply equally to same-sex partners.

The 2012 report also assesses the Department’s progress on its commitment last year to several recommended actions to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBT communities.

Secretary Sebelius credited President Obama’s 2010 directive on hospital visitation rights for same-sex partners with sparking coordinated efforts across the Department to advance LGBT health. Under this directive, HHS created rules protecting the right of each individual to choose the loved ones who visit them in the hospital and to be with their families in their greatest time of need, no matter how their families are formed.

Other HHS activities over the last two years have included:

  • Releasing a strategy for collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity on the National Health Interview Survey.
  • Awarding funds to Fenway Health in Boston to create a training center on LGBT health for community health centers.
  • Adding a filter to that allows consumers to search for health insurance plans that offer domestic partner benefits.
  • Relaunching with content specific to LGBT youth.
  • Releasing the first objective for the LGBT Health topic area in Healthy People 2020 and hosting a Healthy People 2020 webinar on transgender health.
  • Co-hosting the first White House conference on LGBT Health.