June 19, 2012
For over 32 years the Human Rights Campaign has been a powerful voice for many who could not speak for themselves. You’ve raised your voices for fairness and equality for LGBT Americans in the workplace, in the armed forces and now, in our country’s health care system too.
When we find ourselves in a health care setting, we’re often at our most vulnerable. It’s in these moments that being treated with dignity and being close to family and loved ones can be most important.
The Healthcare Equality Index is an important tool for making sure LGBT individuals and families are treated with the same respect and care in these situations as anyone else. It shines a light on what our country’s health institutions are doing to better serve LGBT patients. And it’s very encouraging to see more institutions being recognized as “Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality”.
I commend the LGBT and health care communities for the progress made. And I’m proud to be part of an administration that has a historic record of accomplishment for the LGBT community, and the head of a department that plays a lead role in those efforts.
In 2010, we released a hospital visitation rule to let hospital patients be with their families in their time of need, however those families are formed. And that was just the beginning.
Today, LGBT Americans face numerous barriers to health – from providers who don’t understand their unique health needs to difficulty getting health insurance because they can’t get coverage through a partner or spouse. And unfortunately, throughout our country many LGBT individuals still face discrimination and bigotry in the health care system.
So in the last three years, our department has taken concrete steps to knock down barriers to LGBT health. Those ranged from improved research on the LGBT health landscape to creating programs to train providers on how to care for LGBT individuals.
Later today, we’re releasing the first version of what will be an annual review of our progress towards improving LGBT health. And our report shows that we not only met the goals we set last year, but went even further to improve LGBT Americans access to care and coverage. Our report also includes new goals for next year that set the bar higher and push the department even further towards LGBT health equality.
The improvements may not get the biggest press headlines. But they reflect how every day, in dozens of small ways, every agency and division of our department is working to make things better for the LGBT individuals and families we serve.
So I want to thank the Human Rights Campaign again for their leadership, partnership and support in improving LGBT health. The Healthcare Equality Index shows we’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to go.