Health & Wellness / Life

BREAKING NEWS: HHS & AAMC Release Reports on Improvements in LGBT Health Care

It was a big week for queer health, and two reports have come out this week that demonstrate the prioritization of “our” issues in the mainstream health care establishment. This is terrifically exciting and will surely result in a drastic improvement in LGBT health moving forward.

This week, the Association of American Medical Colleges released a new report, Implementing Curricular and Institutional Climate Changes to Improve Health Care for Individuals Who Are LGBT, Gender Nonconforming, or Born with DSD: A Resource for Medical Educators. This document, written by the AAMC’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development serves to: provide education about the health needs of individuals who are LGBT, gender nonconforming, and/or born with DSD (Disorders of Sexual Development), clarify the role of academic medicine and the health care system in supporting these populations, support medical schools by discussing how to integrate this content into medical education, with a focus on the role of institutional climates, provide a framework to facilitate the assessment of learners, curricula, and institutions, and to highlight national resources and curricular innovations within academic medicine.

The full report of the AAMC may be downloaded for free here: AAMC report. A print version will be available shortly.

Image: AAMC

Image: AAMC

The United States Department of Health and Human Services was charged in 2010 with improving the health and well-being of LGBT individuals and communities, and since that time has set annual goals to that end. This week, the 2015 objectives and accomplishments of the committee were released. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression will be prohibited for Medicare and Medicaid patients at health care facilities. The National Institutes of Health will earmark additional funding to LGBT health, and additional emphasis will be placed on gathering data related to LGBT health. Research on the policy preventing men who have sex with men from donating blood will be performed in order to evaluate whether this is still an appropriate measure. A focus on improving cultural competency with the Native American Two Spirit community will be made, as well.

Some HHS accomplishments in the 2013-2014 fiscal year included the full implementation of the Windsor ruling, which, among other items, gave access to covered care at a skilled nursing facility for same-sex folks whose spouses are also residing at those facilities. Also, during the first open enrollment period for the health care marketplaces, special attention was paid to encouraging LGBT individuals and families to enroll. In 2013, additional research questions including LGBT-related issues were included on a variety of studies, for example the Centers for Disease Control’s flagship study National Health Interview Survey. Youth, families, and cultural competency for LGBT populations were also emphasized. Gender-related surgical intervention for transgender people began to be covered by Medicare contractors, and care under the national breast and cervical cancer screening will be continued for all patients who retain those affiliated body parts.

This is fascinating news and should be one of the accomplishments for which President Obama is most proud! The lives that will be saved because of these updates are numerous. The full text of the report can be found online: 2014 Annual HHS Report.

IMAGE: US HHS

IMAGE: US HHS

We are clearly at a “tipping point” of health care for LGBT and other sexual minority populations. Our issues and concerns are beginning to be brought to the forefront of mainstream healthcare at the national level. Now, this information must be disseminated to hospitals and care providers nationwide down to the community level, to be implemented daily with those who will most benefit.

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  1. Pingback: First ever LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights

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