Momentum: A Healthy Move Forward

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December 13, 2013

In the blog series Momentum: 2013, A Year of Equality we ask Lambda Legal’s experts to discuss the impact of the previous year and the continuing work necessary to keep equality moving forward.

2013 will be remembered as the year the country took a quantum leap forward in securing access to quality healthcare. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act was a major victory for LGBT people and those with HIV. All the fuss about the new government website and the bumpy start to the Affordable Care Act will fade from memory, and here is what will remain:

  • Access to insurance coverage with no exclusions or charges based on pre-existing conditions such as HIV or a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or just for being LGBT.
  • No more lifetime caps on coverage, even if you have a chronic medical condition like cancer, asthma or HIV.
  • Expansion of Medicaid in many states that will offer no-cost care to more people with very limited incomes, including people with HIV.
  • Specific rules prohibiting discrimination that are important to LGBT people and people with HIV.
  • Insurance coverage that includes preventive services at no extra cost including HIV and cancer screening.
  • Insurance parity for mental health and substance abuse treatment that will be particularly helpful to LGBTQ youth who disproportionately need these services.

Under the new law, transgender people will also have the right to expect insurance plans to cover medical services that are covered for all enrollees, including mammograms, Pap tests, prostate exams and probably hormone therapy, regardless of the gender identity of the enrollee.

Fighting for equal access to healthcare at every stage of life has been a key component of Lambda Legal’s work, and 2013 was no exception.

The end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this year brings added healthcare benefits for same-sex couples. For example, married lesbian and gay federal employees, like Lambda Legal client Karen Golinski, are now eligible to cover their same-sex spouses. Through our lawsuit challenging DOMA, Lambda Legal was proud to win family health coverage for Karen and her wife – benefits that are finally enjoyed by all eligible federal employees. That’s amazing progress – and momentum!

With our partners, Lambda Legal also just published a guide to transgender-affirming hospital policies that can be used by health-care providers across the country.

And, following years of advocacy by Lambda Legal and other organizations, the federal government took a step forward on ending the outdated and discriminatory organ transplant rules for people living with HIV. The president signed the HOPE Act which ended the blanket ban on the donation of organs from HIV-positive individuals, clearing the way for transplantation of such organs into people living with HIV. This will save lives.

Momentum is exciting – because it carries us forward to the work ahead. In 2014, we will continue to fight for equal access to health care and the end of discriminatory treatment and rules that limit care for LGBT people and people with HIV.

Help keep equality moving forward by making a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Lambda Legal.

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