New Rules for Affordable Care Act Implementation Are an Opportunity to Eliminate LGBT Discrimination in Health Care
Posted by Melanie Nathan, April 30, 2015.
Washington, D.C. – The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is changing the health care landscape for millions of people, including for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, Americans. However, discrimination against this community still exists, and the Center for American Progress has released an issue brief today calling on the law’s protections to clearly include sexual orientation and gender identity.
LGBT Americans and their families often report experiencing discrimination in the health system. One study found that more than half of the 5,000 LGBT respondents experienced harsh or abusive language, blame for their health status, physical abuse, or excessive precautions from health care workers based on having identified as LGBT. Some of those were even denied treatment for this reason.
“Discrimination in the health care system can have serious negative consequences for LGBT Americans,” said Kellan Baker, CAP Senior Fellow and author of the brief. “This treatment often leaves LGBT Americans skeptical of the health care system and less likely to seek services—exacerbating significant health disparities that affect the LGBT population and resulting in higher risk of serious health problems. The ACA is the best opportunity available to eradicate these disparities by creating a robust nondiscrimination framework.”
The White House Office of Management and Budget is currently considering rules that would clarify language in the legislation that bars discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability, health, or age. This rule-making process is a critical opportunity for the Department of Health and Human Services to state that sexual orientation and gender identity fall under these classifications and should be protected by the ACA.
Navigating our country’s health system—from getting affordable insurance coverage to finding quality care—can be a challenge for anyone. But America’s estimated 9 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, individuals face an additional hurdle: Despite advances in public acceptance of LGBT issues over the past decade, LGBT people and their families seeking health coverage and care continue to encounter discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius put it, “LGBT Americans face numerous barriers to health—from providers who just don’t understand their unique health needs, to difficulty getting health insurance because they can’t get coverage through a partner or a spouse. And unfortunately way too many LGBT individuals face discrimination and bigotry in the health care system.”
Numerous surveys, studies, and reports have documented the widespread extent of the discrimination experienced by LGBT individuals and their families in the health system. The 2010 study “When Health Care Isn’t Caring,” a nationwide survey assessing the health care experiences of LGBT people and people living with HIV, found that more than half of the almost 5,000 respondents reported experiencing at least one of the following types of discrimination:
- Health care providers refusing to touch them or using excessive precautions
- Health care providers using harsh or abusive language
- Health care providers being physically rough or abusive
- Health care providers blaming them for their health status …..
Read more of this brief here
The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”