Lowering costs and expanding affordable insurance coverage is critical to achieving health equity for LGBT+ Americans. Barriers to quality and consistent care such as poverty and discrimination make it difficult for LGBT+ individuals to access health care and afford prescription medications. While the Biden Administration has prioritized improving LGBT+ care, Republicans in state legislatures continue to undermine LGBT+ rights by fighting access to gender affirming care, banning LGBT+ representation in schools, and other measures to discriminate against LGBT+ youth. Improving access to care and protecting LGBT+ individuals from health care discrimination are essential for improving the health and well being of LGBT+ Americans nationwide.
The Biden Administration Has Prioritized Improving LGBT+ Care
Expanding Health Coverage For Millions Of Americans. Premium subsidies made available by the American Rescue Plan helped nearly 210,000 LGBT+ enrollees have access to zero-premium plan. Nationwide, 20 percent of Black LGBT+ individuals are uninsured, compared to 15 percent of Black heterosexual and cisgender individuals and 9 percent of white counterparts. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, nearly 3 million uninsured adults received premium tax credits and a record 14.5 million consumers signed up for health care on the marketplace.
Reversing Trump Policy Allowing Sexual Orientation Discrimination. In May 2021, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that sexual orientation would be restored as a protected class under the Affordable Care Act. This protects sexual orientation and gender identity from health care discrimination, ensuring that LGBT+ inidividuals aren’t denied coverage or charged more for care. This reversal has been especially important with transgender rights being attacked by state-level Republicans.
Protecting Transgender Youth. The Biden Administration is focusing on providing mental health support, creating a more welcoming environment in public schools, and acknowledging the positive impacts of gender affirming care. In honor of Transgender Visibility Day in March 2022, the Justice Department issuing a letter to all state attorneys genera reinforcing federal transgender youth protections against discrimination and obtaining gender affirming care l. The Department of State also enacted gender affirming markers on passports by adding “X” to be selected instead of the binary “F” or “M.”
Republican Have Intensified Attacks On LGBT+ Care
Gov. DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. Early this year, Gov. DeSantis signed the Parental Rights In Education bill, otherwise dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This bill prohibits teachers or school personnel from classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity for kindergarten through third grade. In the face of opposition, Gov. DeSantis has said that teaching children about LGBT+ rights is “inappropriate” and is “not something that’s appropriate for any place, but especially not in Florida.”
Gov. Abbott’s Transgender Child Abuse Order. Gov. Abbott ordered Texas child welfare investigators to launch child abuse investigations into reports of transgender children receiving gender-affirming care. He went one step further in calling for members of the general public and “licensed professionals” to report parents of transgender youth to be investigated. Gov. Abbott’s order was following an opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stating that allowing minors to receive transition care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery is child abuse under state law.
Republican Anti-LGBT+ Bills Sweep The Nation. As of late March 2022, 166 anti-LGBT+ bills are pending in state legislatures. Roughly 75 of these new bills restrict classroom discussions or books featuring LGBT+ issues or representation from public schools; nearly 50 bills attempt to ban transgender youth from playing sports that align with their gender identity; and at least 29 bills seek to ban gender affirming medical care. These bills have become especially prevalent as the GOP seeks to energize its base before the 2022 midterm elections.
Improving Health Care Access Is Essential for LGBT+ Americans
LGBT+ Americans Suffer From High Prescription Drug Prices
Protecting LGBT+ Americans From Outrageous Price Increases. 21.6 percent of the LGBT+ community lives in poverty and nearly half of transgender people have postponed or skipped care due to cost. A 2018 study by the UCLA Williams Institute School of Law found that 15 percent of gay men and women delayed or went without medication in the past year. LGBT+ individuals have an increased risk of diabetes due to inequities in quality of health care.
Closing The Medicaid Coverage Gap Would Help Low Income LGBT Americans Gain Coverage
Closing The Coverage Gap Improves Outcomes For LGBT+ Individuals. According to a Center for American Progress survey, in 2019, the LGBT+ uninsured rate was 20 percent in holdout states, compared to 8 percent in states that adopted Medicaid expansion. 29 percent of LGBT+ individuals faced difficulty seeking medical care when sick or injured due to cost. LGBT+ Americans are twice as likely to be without health insurance.
Medicaid Drastically Reduces Disparities. Closing the Medicaid coverage gap is the single most important policy to expand coverage and reduce racial inequities in the American health care system. A 2021 study found that more Black LGBT+ adults had Medicaid as their primary insurance compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
Expanding Home And Community-Based Services Would Help Older LGBT Americans
Millions of LGBT+ Americans To Grow Old At Home. Federally provided home and community-based services funds helped more than 100,000 individuals return to their homes and communities from nursing facilities between 2008 and 2019. Allowing LGBT+ seniors to grow old at home helps alleviate the concern older LGBT+ adults have about being neglected, abused, or face discrimination in nursing home or assisted living facilities.