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Our LGBT loved ones have unique health needs, yet do not have equal access to quality healthcare to address these specific needs. Often they face financial, personal and cultural barriers when attempting to access healthcare. Lack of access is caused by the lack of culturally competent providers, the lack of financial resources to obtain appropriate care, and the fear of disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

These problems are compounded because many of our loved ones may be at higher risk of certain forms of cancers, along with stress-related mental health problems and substance abuse due to our culture’s pervasive homophobia and transphobia.

 

Federal Legislation

 

Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act

Bill Number:
The bill is expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress soon.

What this Bill Will Do:
The Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act would eliminate the barriers that LGBT Americans face in accessing quality health care, ensuring that good health and well-being is accessible to all. The legislation establishes non-discrimination policies for all federal health programs, provides funding for cultural competence training (i.e. LGBT sensitivity training) for health care providers, extends Medicare benefits to same-sex domestic partners, creates a new Office of LGBT Health within in the Department of Health and Human Services, and provides funding for community health centers who serve the LGBT community, along with investing in data collection and research.

What You Need to Ask For:
Tell your legislator about the importance of this bill and once it is introduced, ask them to cosponsor it. If your legislator is part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, ask him or her to give this bill a hearing.

PFLAG Talking Points:

  • Healthcare provider discrimination must stop. Health care providers can currently decline to treat or provide certain necessary treatments, to individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We must institute non-discrimination policies for all health care provided by the federal government.
  • Our families need and deserve competent healthcare services. Many providers simply lack the knowledge base to provide appropriate care for the LGBT community. The federal government should support these providers – such as hospitals, community-based clinics, and long term care facilities – with support they need to treat all patients appropriately.
  • Investment in LGBT healthcare is critical. Currently, no federal health survey or federal health program collects data on sexual orientation and gender identity, leaving gaping holes in our knowledge base on LGBT health. While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has committed to begin collecting LGBT demographic information on their health surveys, the federal government must continue to invest resources to collect basic information on the health of all Americans, including LGBT individuals.
  • Federal prevention programs leave LGBT Americans behind. Current statutory limitations prevent comprehensive discussions of sexuality in federally funded prevention and sexual education efforts. Ignoring discussions of sexuality and the existence of sexual minorities intentionally dismisses the existence of LGBT Americans, the realities of their lives, and their critical health information needs, which ultimately increases risky behaviors. We must end this exclusion.

Important Notes:
Upon reintroduction, the bill will be referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as to the Committees on Armed Services, the Judiciary, Ways and Means, Oversight and Government Reform, House Administration, Education and Labor, Veterans’ Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure, Intelligence (Permanent Select), and Foreign Affairs, for a consideration.


HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act

Bill Number:
The bill passed the full Senate on June 17, 2013 as S. 330 introduced on Feb. 14, 2013 by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress in the House as H.R. 698 by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) on Feb. 14, 2013 and passed the full House on November 12, 2013.  The President is expected to sign the bill on November 13, 2013.

What this Bill Will Do:

The HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act would permit donated, HIV-positive organs to be used for transplantation in HIV-positive patients, a medical procedure currently prohibited by federal law.  The HOPE Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services and the Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) to develop and institute standards for research on HIV-positive organ transplantation and permits the Secretary to permit positive-to-positive transplantation if it is determined that the results of research warrant such a change.  The Secretary would be required to direct OPTN to develop standards to ensure that positive-to-positive transplantation does not impact the safety of the organ transplantation network.  In addition, the Act amends federal criminal law regarding HIV transmission to clarify that such organ donations are not barred.

What You Need to Ask For:
Thank your Senators and Representatives for this bill’s passage.

PFLAG Talking Points:

  • Letting HIV positive people donate their organs to another HIV positive person who is in a clinical trial and in need is humane.

  • The bill removes the ban on permitting organs that test positive for HIV from being harvested, and the bill  requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop appropriate guidelines.

  • This is a non-controversial bill that is expected to be attached to another to-be-determined non-controversial bill, and your support would be valued.

 

Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstitence-Only Program Funding Act

 

Bill Number:
The bill was introduced as H.R. 1085 by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and as S. 578 by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) on March 15, 2011.

 

What This Bill Will Do:
The bill would end funding for Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and redirect this funding to the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), a state grant funding stream for more comprehensive sex education programs.

 

What You Need to Ask For:
Ask your Members of Congress to support this legislation. If they are not currently a cosponsor, ask that they become one. Contact members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce or the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions to urge passage to full House & Senate vote.

 

PFLAG Talking Points:

  • Abstinence-only programs exclude LGBT youth by design. The federal definition of “abstinence education” promotes marriage as the only acceptable family structure; because the majority of states prohibit same-sex couples from marrying, the focus on marriage creates a hostile learning environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and children of LGBT or single parents.  The programs completely ignore the existence of LGBT youth, the realities of their lives, and their specific health needs. In fact, since abstinence programs address only heterosexual relationships, too many LGBT youth assume that the safer-sex message does not apply to them.
  • Science-based sex education programs work. To date, the federal government has spent more than $1.5 billion on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Congress continues to provide $50 million each year for Title V abstinence only-until-marriage programs, despite a 10-year Congressional mandated evaluation which showed that these programs are ineffective and dangerously inaccurate.  In contrast, the Personal Responsibility Education Program currently provides $75 million each year in first-of-its-kind state grant funding for comprehensive sex education programs that have been scientifically evaluated to have a measurable impact. This bill would expand funding for this groundbreaking program.
  • We have a responsibility to empower educators to provide accurate information. Educators must be allowed and encouraged to present programs that are based on effective, science-based information, that demonstrate respect for the diversity of values and beliefs represented in the community, in a way that complements the education children receive form their families.
  • Fund comprehensive sex education. While there are three separate federal funding streams dedicated to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, no federal funding currently exists specifically for comprehensive sexuality education. It’s time to fund age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sex education.

Important Notes:

  • As of publication in July 2011, the House version of this bill has 40 cosponsors and the Senate version has 9 cosponsors.
  • The bill is currently with the House Subcommittee on Health and the Senate Finance Committee.

 

Administrative Work

 

Department of Health and Human Services

In coalition with a number of national LGBT organizations, PFLAG continues to advocate for the Department of Health and Human Services to include questions and data collection pertinent to the LGBT community as part of the duties of the National Center for Health Statistics. Where legal, questions about the sexual orientation and gender identity of respondents should be included, and where appropriate, questions on surveys that focus on behaviors, should be inclusive so that federal programs and services can better meet and respond to the specific needs of our loved ones.

 

Training Programs

 

Straight for Equality in Healthcare

 

Straight for Equality is a national outreach and education project created by PFLAG National to empower allies in supporting and advocating for LGBT people and their families by educating community members and engaging allies to move equality forward.

 

The goal of the Straight for Equality in Healthcareprogram is to help healthcare providers in all healthcare fields locate information about what it means to be an ally in healthcare, to provide resources about the specific healthcare concerns/needs of the LGBT community, and to provide ways that providers can better support LGBT people who are accessing healthcare services. Learn more about Straight for Equality in Healthcare here.

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

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