WalletHub ranks Texas as 47th in health care

Source: WalletHub

Texas is the 11th-worst state in the country for health care, according to a new survey from WalletHub, a credit score/credit report/financial advice website owned by Evolution Finance Inc. and based in Washington, D.C.

The report, titled “2017’s Best and Worst States for Health Care,” by Richie Bernardo, notes that the average American spends nearly $10,000 a year on personal health care, according to estimates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That figure is expected to continue to increase over time.

But, Bernardo’s report adds, “higher costs don’t necessarily translate to better results.” He quotes a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows the U.S. continues to be out-performed by several other nations in areas of health coverage, life expectancy and disease burden (measuring longevity and quality of life).

Still, our country has progressed in some areas, especiall “it’s ability to promote health and provide high quality care, with some recent improvement in the accessibility of that care and a slowing of spending growth.”

(That last, obviously, was before Trump was inaugurated and he and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan launched their all-out war against the Affordable Care Act.)

Bernardo said the WalletHub report compares the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 35 measures of cost, accessibility and outcome. You can read the full report here, but let’s look at some of the stats on Texas (This is out of the 50 states and D.C., with 1 equaling the best, and 25 denoting “average”):

  • Texas is 27th in hospital beds per capita.
  • 43rd in physicians per capita.
  • 31st in dentists per capita.
  • 43rd in physician Medicare-acceptance rate.
  • 51st (that’s dead last) in the percentage of insured adults ages 18-64.
  • 49th in the percentage of insured children ages 0-17 (only Alaska and Nevada are worse).
  • 28th in the percentage of at-risk adults with no routine doctor visit in the past two years.
  • 47th in the percentage of adults with no dental visit in the past year.

Texas ranked 47th overall, 44th in costs, 51st (again, dead last) in access and 30th in outcomes.

 

—  Tammye Nash

TrumpCare is bad for LGBTs and other living things

The Center for American Progress has just published a new fact sheet outlining the impact that the health care repeal bill now being considered in the U.S. Senate — that the Republicans are calling the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) and that sane people are calling TrumpCare and utterly f’in ridiculous — would have an “outsized impact” on those of us in the LGBT communities.

The information comes from “a nationally representative survey commissioned and designed by CAP and fielded by Knowledge Networks,” according to the CAP press release. The survey questioned 1,864 individuals about their experiences with health insurance and health care in late January 2017.

Key findings include:

  • An estimated 560,000 LGBTQ adults will lose coverage if Medicaid expansion is ended.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act — called ObamaCare by those seeking to undermine its efficiency and repeal it — uninsurance among low- and middle-income LGBTQ adults dropped by 35 percent between 2013 and 2017. But 15 percent of LGBTQ adults still need health insurance, compared to 7 percent of non-LGBTQ adults.
  • Medicaid covers at least 1.8 million LGBTQ adults (18 percent of all LGBTQ adults), including 31 percent of LGBTQ adults living with a disability and 40 percent of LGBTQ adults with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • The BCRA prohibits federal Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood for one year; Planned Parenthood is one of the country’s largest providers of transgender-inclusive health care.
  • BCRA would harm individuals with pre-existing conditions, including the 65 percent of LGBTQ adults who have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or HIV. These individuals living in states that chose to eliminate essential health benefits (EHB) under the BCRA would face significant increases in their out-of-pocket costs for care.

The full fact sheet is available here.

—  Tammye Nash

ACLU seeks to stay court order allowing healthcare providers to discriminate

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion Monday, Jan. 9, in the Northern District Court of Texas, asking the court stay the nationwide court order preventing the federal government from enforcing an Affordable Care Act regulation that protects transgender people and women from discrimination in healthcare.

The ACLU also asked the court to issue a formal ruling on its request to intervene in the lawsuit.

A group of states, led by Texas and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and a group of religiously-affiliated health care organizations who claim that Affordable Care Act regulations banning discrimination against transgender people and women could force healthcare providers to violate their personal religious beliefs. The plaintiffs in the case claim “they should be allowed to deny essential healthcare services and coverage to transgender people and women,” the ACLU says.

The ACLU originally moved to intervene on behalf of the ACLU of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance in September because the lawsuit “seeks to undermine critical anti-discrimination measures and to allow religion to be used to harm others, including by denying medical care,” according to an ACLU press release.

Federal Judge Reed O’Connor — the same judge that enjoined federal guidelines to school districts on interacting with transgender students — issued a preliminary injunction on Dec. 31 that halted enforcement of the ACA regulations just hours before it was to go into effect. The nationwide injunction restrains the government from enforcing the regulation to prevent public and private healthcare providers, including hospitals and healthcare centers, from discriminating against transgender people and women.

Such discrimination may include harassment, refusal to perform essential healthcare services like reproductive or gender-affirming care, and denials of insurance coverage for essential healthcare services, according to the ACLU.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling said, “Religious liberty does not mean the right to discriminate or harm others. No one should live in fear of being turned away at a hospital because of who they are, and we’re ready to fight this decision sanctioning discrimination. We won’t sit idly by while women and transgender people continue to see their rights come under assault.”

Kate Parrish, president of the Omaha, Nebraska-based River City Gender Alliance, said, “The judge’s court order direct attack on the transgender community’s right to function normally and safely in everyday life. Our access to medically necessary health care treatment is being restricted simply because of who we are.”

To see the ACLU’s motion, go here.

—  Tammye Nash

Supreme Court rulings benefit the LGBT community

SCOTUS

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25. (Courtesy Dreanna Belden)

The U.S. Supreme Court today (Thursday, June 25) decided two major cases — one on housing and one healthcare — that affect members of the LGBT community. The housing case originated in Dallas.

King v. Burwell (Affordable Care Act subsidies)

While acknowledging in the majority opinion supporting the Affordable Care Act that many passages are poorly written, the decision upholds the subsidies that have allowed millions of people to obtain health insurance. The ruling particularly affects Texas because the suit took aim at states — like Texas — that didn’t create their own health insurance exchanges.

For people with HIV, that coverage has meant being able to see a private doctor and go to a hospital other than Parkland. For AIDS agencies providing direct healthcare, it’s meant a new revenue source and the ability to help more people without insurance.

AIDS Arms, with two medical clinics, has seen an increase in the number of its patients with insurance. Services provided to those same clients previously would have been covered by grants.

Not everyone is happy with the Supreme Court’s rulings.

“This is unfortunate news for the millions of Americans who have experienced first-hand the devastating effects Obamacare has had on their families and businesses,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “While today’s ruling is disappointing, Obamacare remains one of the broadest overreaches of federal authority in our nation’s history and we must continue to call on our leaders in Washington to step up and put an end to this job-killing law.”

The job-killing Paxton was referring to is that 2014, the first year of implementation of the ACA was the strongest year for job-creation since the 1990s.

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, said, “The impact of a different decision would have been devastating” and would have affected insurance for about 830,000 Texans.

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said, “Now that this ruling has been cemented in stone by the highest court of the land, it is my hope that House Republicans can finally move past their partisan obsession with obstructing and dismantling the Affordable Care Act and begin to work with House Democrats on responsible and bipartisan efforts to lower health care costs, create jobs, and strengthen our economy.”

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum weighed in as well.

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is yet another reminder that if we are to rid our nation Obamacare once and for all, we need to elected [sic] a conservative President prepared to lead on day one.”

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project (disparate impact and the Fair Housing Act)

The second case upheld the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Attorney Mike Daniel, former husband of County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, represented Dallas’ Inclusive Communities Project, and prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision allows the Dallas nonprofit to sue for discrimination, even if the bias wasn’t intentional. Money for housing projects usually went to Dallas’ poorest neighborhoods rather than placing low-income housing throughout the city. That could affect plans for Dallas Housing Authority’s largest project slated for Kings Road between Maple Avenue and Cedar Springs Road.

However, the decision affects housing across the country.

“Disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act are key to addressing systemic housing discrimination and segregation in the United States, including against LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “As the LGBT community seeks to gain explicit protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, this decision from the court is welcome news and reinforces this important tool for addressing housing discrimination.”

“We are elated that the U.S. Supreme Court protected health insurance for millions and reinforced the importance of rooting out discrimination in housing,” said Kate Kendall, National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director. “These two rulings reaffirm the most basic principles of equality, access, and fair dealing.”

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Supreme Court rules on housing, healthcare

Supreme-Court-building-permissionNo marriage equality ruling today, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 2 cases. The marriage equality ruling will either be issued tomorrow, June 26 — the anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas, Windsor and Prop 8 decisions — or on Monday, June 29.

On the second-to-last opinion day of the term, it’s customary for the Chief Justice to announce that the remaining opinions are coming on the next day. He didn’t do that today, so announcement of the remaining five opinions will probably be split between Friday and Monday.

The Texas Housing decision, a Dallas case, was decided 5-4 upholding the lower court decision and is remanded to the Fifth Circuit to review.

SCOTUSblog wrote, “The issue in this case is whether the Fair Housing Act allows lawsuits based on disparate impact – that is, an allegation that a law or practice has a discriminatory effect, even if it wasn’t based on a discriminatory purpose. The court had granted review to consider this question in two earlier cases, but both of those cases settled before the Court could rule on them.”

The ruling broadens the terms of discrimination and Dallas Housing Authority must do more to distribute funds for housing in black and in white neighborhoods.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision in King v. Burwell, a 6-3 opinion. Subsidies for health insurance will continue in states like Texas that did not expand Medicaid coverage and did not create their own exchanges.

—  David Taffet

Trans Pride Initiative’s going to DC but needs your help

Nell-Gaither

Trans Pride Initiative’s Nell Gaither.

Thanks to Out2Enroll, Trans Pride’s Nell Gaither will join other LGBT advocates from around the country in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 10, to share stories and successes of LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act.

She’s going to D.C. with her personal stories and wants to hear yours, too. She’ll be talking about how, before the Affordable Care Act, she was denied coverage by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for being trans.

If you have a health care story, comment or suggestion to share, you have a few options. You can share anonymously via this online form, e-mail it to nell@tpride.org or call Nell at 214-394-9835. She will record your story over the phone.

She’d prefer to receive comments by Wednesday, April 9.

—  James Russell

Supreme Court to hear two cases that could affect LGBT community

HobbyLobbyBy Lisa Keen
Keen News Service

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases next week that test the degree to which employers may use their personal religious beliefs to deny certain health coverage for employees. Neither case involves any LGBT-related health coverage, but the decisions in both may affect whether employers will be able to cite religious beliefs to deny such services as alternative insemination and gender reassignment.

The cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood v. HHS, involve employers asserting religious beliefs as grounds for denying health insurance coverage for birth control. Both take issue with the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby challenges the ACA implementing regulations that require employer health coverage plans provide women on their plans with the “full range” of “contraceptive methods.” Those regulations also authorize an exemption for “religious employer” and “religious nonprofit organizations that have religious objections to providing coverage for some or all contraceptive services.”

“A religious employer,” noted HHS’s brief to the Supreme Court, “is defined as a non-profit organization described in the Internal Revenue Code provision that refers to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, conventions or associations of churches, and the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.”

Hobby Lobby Stores and Mardel are two stores challenging the regulations. Hobby Lobby is a national chain of arts and craft supply stores. Mardel is an affiliated chain of Christian bookstores. Both stores are owned by five people (referred to as The Greens) who excluded contraceptive coverage from the health plans for their combined 13,372 employees, saying contraception goes against their religious belief that life begins “when sperm fertilizes an egg.”

The Hobby Lobby-Mardel owners filed the lawsuit, arguing that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act prohibits government from “substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion” unless the need to do so addresses a “compelling governmental interest” and is applied in the “least restrictive” way.

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled for the Hobby Lobby-Mardel, saying they do count, under the Restoration Act, as “persons exercising religion” and that requiring them to provide contraceptive coverage does “compromise their religious beliefs.”

HHS is appealing, saying the beliefs held by the owners of the two companies do not justify an exemption for the companies to a “generally applicable law that regulates only those corporations and not their individual owners.”

—  David Taffet

Insurance navigators will be at Resource Center on Saturday

GetCoveredResource Center teams with Planned Parenthood and Get Covered America to provide healthcare insurance assistance on Saturday at the Resource Center.

Navigators will help anyone needing help find a policy that is complaint with the Affordable Care Act.

Andrew Greenberg, coordinating the event for Get Covered America, said the navigators will help find insurance through the marketplace or direct people to Medicare or Medicaid, if they qualify.

Those covered at work who do not qualify for federal subsidies for their insurance, but have a partner taking advantage of DP benefits may qualify for a subsidy and receive comparable benefits at a lower out-of-pocket price.

Bring the following information:

If you desire to speak with a navigator, please bring the following:

• Birth certificate or U.S. passport

• Photo ID (driver’s license, state ID card, military ID card, school ID card)

• Social Security card

• Proof of income (paystub, income tax return, letters from Social Security)

• Employer insurance information (if applicable)

The event takes place at Resource Center, 2701 Reagan St. on Feb. 15, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Anyone who can’t attend or has additional questions about the event may contact Andrew Greenberg at 972-345-4591 or by email.

—  David Taffet

LGBT groups praise Supreme Court’s health care decision — except for Log Cabin Republicans

The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholding the Affordable Care Act will affect access to healthcare across the LGBT community. People will not lose their health insurance because of HIV status or other pre-existing conditions, and transgender people cannot be denied coverage.

In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the penalty for not buying insurance under the “individual mandate” is a tax and is therefore constitutional.

While the ACA makes insurance coverage more widely available to the LGBT community, the ruling allows states like Texas to refuse federal money to expand Medicaid to cover more people unable to afford private health insurance.

Insurance should be more accessible once statewide insurance exchanges are created, but Texas has done little to begin creating those exchanges, banking on the ACA being declared unconstitutional. State exchanges will not be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sex.

Dallas’ AIDS Interfaith Network called the decision a “major step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In a press release, AIN wrote:

By upholding the Affordable Care Act, ensuring more individuals can obtain health insurance coverage, the Court removed a major roadblock to ending AIDS in America.

People living with HIV will have access to the reliable health coverage they need to seek and maintain continuous care, without unnecessary worrying about interrupts in care because of inadequate coverage or inability to pay.

National LGBT organizations, with the exception of Log Cabin Republicans, praised the decision.

—  David Taffet

Local briefs • 10.14.11

RCD hosts ‘The 5 Factor’

Resource Center Dallas, in partnership with Dallas Modern Luxury, presents the third annual “The 5 Factor” event on Thursday, Oct. 20, at eM the venue by Marc, 1500 Dragon St. in Dallas.

“The 5 Factor” event recognizes five of Dallas’ finest in areas such as cuisine, fashion, media and literature.

This year’s “5 Factor” honorees are journalist and award-winning author Jenny Block; Emmy Award-winning journalist Ron Corning, who recently joined WFAA Channel 8 as the host of News 8 Daybreak; Dallas restaurant owner Monica Greene of Monica’s Aca Y Alla in Deep Ellum and BEE in Oak Cliff, who recently began providing commentary on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars for WFAA; award-winning fashion designer Prashi Shah who created her own label, Prashe, and recently opened a showroom in Dallas’ Design District; and Bronwen Weber, executive chef and general manager of Frosted Art Bakery and Studio in Dallas who is perhaps best known to many for her appearances on television’s Food Network Challenge programs.

The evening will be hosted by Angela Betasso, with state Rep. Eric L. Johnson and his wife as co-chairs and last year’s honorees serving as the honorary host committee.

General admission is $50 per person, available online at The5Factor.org. Proceeds benefit the programs and services of Resource Center Dallas.

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GLAAD holds ‘Get Amped’ 5K

The local chapter of GLAAD presents Get Amped, a 5K run/walk on the Katy Trail on Thursday, Oct. 20, in conjunction with similar chapter events around the country.
Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center.

The starting gun goes off at 7 p.m. The celebration takes place at the finish line, also at the arena, at 9 p.m.

An after-party takes place at 9:30 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon.

Each runner has a goal of raising $250. The money raised will benefit the national organization.

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VNA holds Service of Remembrance

The Visiting Nurse Association will host a Service of Remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Preston Hollow United Methodist Church, 6315 Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas.

The event is open to the public and will feature special music, readings and the opportunity to light a memorial candle.

Attendees of all faiths are welcome to attend the service.

For more information call Sue Rafferty, bereavement coordinator with the Visiting Nurse Association, at 214-689-2922

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens