Openly lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., on Tuesday, June 23 introduced the "Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act," a comprehensive piece of legislation intended to improve "all areas of the health care system where LGBT Americans face inequality and discrimination," according to a statement released Tuesday by the congresswoman’s office.
"Our current health care system fails LGBT Americans on many levels," said Baldwin. "Although we have ample anecdotal evidence of these disparities, the federal government lacks even the most basic data on sexual orientation and gender identity and health. This bill invests in research and takes critical steps towards improving the health of LGBT Americans and their families."
Other sponsors are House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Mike Honda, D- Calif., and Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y.
Baldwin said she has been working on the bill for more than a year and that as Congress takes on the task of reforming the health care system as a whole, she and her colleagues are "working to ensure that we address the health care of all disenfranchised populations."
In addition to investing in data collection and research, the bill establishes non-discrimination policies for all federal health programs, provides funding for cultural competence training for health care providers, extends Medicare benefits to same-sex domestic partners, creates a new office of LGBT Health within the Department of Health and Human Services and provides funding for community health centers that serve the LGBT community.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 26, 2009.