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

25 ways to fight AIDS

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

Wait! Before you click the ‘next’ button or scroll down your news feed hear me out: The LGBT community has been living with AIDS for three decades now. For people of my generation the message to get tested and use condoms has been stated and restated so many times that it has faded into the background with the result that, all too often, people do not take the steps they need to to protect themselves. Harris County is responsible for 30% of the new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in Texas and men who have sex with men account for 64% of newly diagnosed men statewide. The threat is not over, the fight is not over, AIDS still endanger the LGBT community.

But I don’t want to just talk about just condoms and testing (as important as they are). Fighting HIV/AIDS is easier than you might think. I present to you 25 ways, in no particular order, to fight AIDS in Houston.

25. If you’re over a certain age talk to a young LGBT person about how your life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. You might be surprised how eager we are to hear your stories.

24. If you’re under a certain age listen to an older LGBT person tell you how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives. I know you aren’t eager to hear their stories, but listen anyway. You may find that learning the history of your community is more empowering than you’d expect.

23. If you are a sexually active gay man or transgender woman participate in the Baylor College of Medicine’s HIV Vaccine Study.

22. Ask your local public or school library to put books about HIV/AIDS on the shelf, not just in the back room where they have to be requested. Access to accurate information is crucial in fighting the spread of the disease.

21. Post HIV/AIDS stories to facebook.

20. Ask your clergy person what your community of faith is doing to fight the pandemic.

19. Sign up for action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition at texashiv.org

18. Actually follow through when the action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition arrive in your in-box.

17. Volunteer for organizations that deal with communities at high risk for infection: high school dropouts, victims of sexual assault, the poor, the homeless and sex workers. Fighting AIDS means fighting the injustice in our society that all too often contributes to new infections.

16. Say AIDS out loud.

15. Ask political candidates what they will do to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

14. Once they’re elected, ask those candidates why they aren’t doing more to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

13. Remind yourself that it’s OK to be tired of hearing about HIV/AIDS.

12. Thank a person who volunteers their time to the fight.

11. Take a moment to remember the people we’ve lost.

10. Take a moment to think of the people we may loose if this pandemic isn’t stopped.

9. Take a HIV/AIDS healthcare worker to dinner.

8. Wear a red ribbon.

7. Recognize that wearing a red ribbon isn’t enough.

6. Work with communities other than your own. HIV/AIDS effects us all.

5. Get angry.

4. Get over your anger.

3. Donate to an HIV/AIDS Charity.

2. When you pass a mobile HIV testing center, thank the workers.

1. Don’t pretend the fight is over, and don’t let other people pretend it’s over either.

—  admin

FRC staffer likens U.S. to Sodom and Gomorrah; we wonder if Biblical city had universal healthcare

And now more Christmas cheer from Bob Maginnis, the Family Research Council‘s Senior Fellow for National Security:

“I’ve heard from commanders who are saying, ‘Well, we may not be able to tolerate that sort of [assertion] about homosexuality.’ What about the service member who is not a chaplain, but a Christian service member who has an understandable religious-based belief that what these people do is an abomination and that they should not embrace that lifestyle — especially if they’re told to live with someone like that?” the Pentagon advisor wonders. “Will they be listened to?”

But he laments that the military has refused to recommend segregating the homosexuals from heterosexual service members out of concern of antagonizing the homosexuals. So he decides America is now no better than Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities mentioned in Genesis that are synonymous with impenitent sin that brought God’s wrath upon them.

Maginnis: U.S. no better than Sodom and Gomorrah [One News Now]

Honestly, it’s not even these folks repeated hostility towards gay people that’s so shocking. We, the proud crowd that gets marked for exportation and/or criminalization, 201012230842are more than used to that sort of thing. Why should the holidays put an end to it?

What is new and different in the DADT conversation is the way groups like FRC keep indicting heterosexual soldiers, making it sound as if our military is crawling with straight men and women whose violent tendencies towards other sexual orientations are hinging on a thin closet door. We of course all deserve better than what FRC offers up as discourse. But on this: It’s really the millions of perfectly adjusted men and women who serve our country with a brave heart and a peaceful mind who should resent the way the “values” crowd keeps presenting our armed forces as the world’s largest “Smear The Queer” team.

***

*NOTE: The audio version of this OneNewsNow report takes the segregation suggestion one step further, with the above line instead reading: “the military has refused to recommend segregating the homosexuals from [normal] service members.” Listen to that cheerful carol here.




Good As You

—  admin

HRC’s New Corporate Equality Index Requires Removal of Exclusions to Transgender Healthcare and Benefits

The following is from Meghan Stabler; Meghan sits on HRC’s Board of Directors and Business Council:

Transgender healthcare coverage and benefits have for too long been excluded from many business’ healthcare plans. It has been a systematic level of discrimination against transgender employees that has a devastating impact on so many people, and it needs to change. In 2002, only 5% of CEI-rated companies included gender identity among their non-discrimination policies and in 2004, only 3% of CEI-rated companies addressed transgender health with limited benefit offerings. Today, 79% of CEI-rated companies provide this limited coverage and 85 companies offer at least one healthcare plan option to all employees that covers many medically necessary transition-related treatments, including hormone therapies and surgeries.

Since 2008 I’ve been an active member of the Human Rights Campaign Business Council. Members provide expert advice and counsel on LGBT workplace issues based on their business experience and knowledge. I, along with all members of the council made it our goal to ensure that we focus on uplifting the requirements for transgender inclusion and provide HR, diversity and benefit administrators with a clear path to remove transgender workplace discrimination and ensure the provision of health insurance.

Transgender people are often categorically denied health insurance coverage for medically necessary treatment, irrespective of whether treatment is related to sex affirmation/reassignment. Up until the last few years, nearly all U.S. employer-based health insurance plans contained “transgender exclusions” that limited insurance coverage for transition-related treatment and other care. For any employee, the denial of coverage for medically necessary services and treatments can be both traumatic and life-threatening. Employers, as consumers of group health insurance products, can advocate on behalf of the transgender people insured on their group health insurance plans. The HRC Corporate Equality Index provides the motivation for employers to work with their insurance carriers or administrators to remove transgender exclusions and provide comprehensive transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

The new CEI criteria raise the transgender benefit provision requirements significantly for employees, their dependents and applies to business operations throughout the United States, including wholly-owned subsidiaries.

As part of HRC’s commitment to ending discrimination against transgender people, beginning in calendar year 2011 full credit will be given only to employers offering all benefits-eligible employees (and their dependents) at least one health insurance plan that

  • Covers medically necessary treatments without exclusions or limitations specific to transgender individuals or to transition-related care, and
  • Conforms to current medical standards of care such as those defined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care in determining eligibility and treatment coverage for transition-related services.

In making these changes HRC’s goal remains unchanged; seeking to highlight workplace practices that effectively eliminate discrimination against transgender employees. For the past three years we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of employer insurance policies and documented tremendous progress. Many businesses have taken steps to remove discrimination from at least one of their health insurance plans for employees and their dependents: Employers of varying size and across industry sectors have successfully introduced coverage inclusive of services related to transgender transition, either at no cost or at a negligible cost.

We have also found that placing financial caps for transition related coverage are unnecessary and uncommon and were often utilized to control perceived risk. However, such caps also represent insurmountable barriers to care in many cases. They are discriminatory and the CEI will demand that they be removed. HRC research on utilization has shown that claims costs are extremely low, and therefore risk is low. Only 16 of the 85 businesses currently with full transgender coverage reported a financial cap, ranging from ,000 to 0,000, and half of these reported caps of ,000 or greater. In-depth interviews with a subset of employers indicated that there had been little or no initial increase in premiums, that both absolute and annual per employee costs attributed to benefit utilization had been minimal, and that there had been no impact on subsequent premiums.

So in summary, much progress has been made by corporations to provide coverage, but work still needs to be undertaken to remove prior discriminatory exclusions for transgender employees and dependents. I truly believe that the latest uplift to the CEI, and the requirement to provide services in order to achieve 100%, will signal a pivotal moment of change for both the employer and transitioning individual.

For more information visit www.hrc.org/cei

Overview of equal health coverage for transgender individuals in the calendar 2011 CEI:

Baseline Criteria

  • Insurance contract explicitly affirms coverage
  • Plan documentation is readily available to employees and clearly communicates inclusive insurance options to employees and their eligible dependents
  • Benefits available to other employees must extend to transgender individuals. Where available for employees, the following benefits should all extend to transgender individuals, including for services related to transgender transition (e.g., medically necessary services related to sex reassignment):
  • Short term medical leave
  • Mental health benefits
  • Pharmaceutical coverage (e.g., for hormone replacement therapies)
  • Coverage for medical visits or laboratory services
  • Coverage for reconstructive surgical procedures related to sex reassignment
  • Coverage of routine, chronic, or urgent non-transition services (e.g., for a transgender individual based on their sex or gender. For example, prostate exams for women with a transgender history and pelvic/gynecological exams for men with a transgender history must be covered)
  • Existing plan features should extend equally to transition related care, e.g., provisions for “adequacy of network, ”access to specialists, travel or expense reimbursement
  • Dollar caps on this area of coverage must meet or exceed ,000 per individual

Full Criteria

  • Coverage available for full range of services indicated by World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, including the Medical Necessity Clarification Statement
  • No Lifetime or Annual Dollar caps on this area of coverage
  • Benefit administration covers treatment plans that adhere to the WPATH diagnostic and assessment process.
  • Eliminates barriers to coverage:
    • No separate dollar maximums or deductibles
    • Explicit adequacy of network provisions
    • No other serious limitations


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

The gays know how to protest!

June — National Gay Pride Month — is just a few weeks away, and LGBT people from around the world are making plans to head to San Francisco for one of the biggest gay Pride celebrations anywhere.

But one group of San Fran activists wants their fellow LGBT people coming in for Pride to join a boycott of certain hotels in San Francisco called by hotel workers to demand fair contracts and affordable health care. The activists staged a “flash mob” in the lobby of one of the targeted hotels, the Westin St. Francis, singing and dancing to an adapted version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

The video, posted here from YouTube, includes a list of hotels targeted in the boycott. The flash mob was organized by San Francisco Pride at Work/HAVOQ, One Struggle One Fight and The Brass Liberation Orchestra.

Information on the boycott and why the workers have called for it, you can check out SleepWithTheRightPeople.org and HotelWorkersRising.org.

Whether you agree with the boycott or not, and whether you plan to honor the boycott if you are traveling to San Francisco, you’ve got to give the LGBT activists there props for knowing how to stage an informative and entertaining protest.

Check it out.

—  admin