This past week marked the 11th Annual LGBT Health Awareness Week, a nationwide event that promotes the unique health and wellness needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This week, we highlight the progress our Commonwealth and the country has made to ensure that LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans, particularly in access to quality, confidential health care.
Access to affordable care has historically been difficult for the LGBT community. LGBT-identified individuals, particularly transgender Americans, frequently have more complex healthcare needs. On average, LGBT-identified Americans suffer from higher rates of cancer, obesity, HIV/AIDS and mental illness than their heterosexual or cis-gender counterparts. For those with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, caps on annual and lifetime health insurances coverage could lead to astronomical bills and debt for many in the community.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, LGBT health equity has taken a few leaps forward. While we in Massachusetts have had this equality for over a decade, under the Affordable Care Act, legally married couples in all states are treated equally when it comes to coverage or financial assistance. This Lifetime and annual dollar caps are no longer permissible, so you can not be denied the use of the insurance you pay for, ever. In addition, lifesaving screenings and preventative doctor visits are now covered under all new compliant plans with little or no co-pay, meaning illness can be caught and treated soon. Most importantly: no one can be denied coverage based on their health history, and with new subsidized and affordable options available with the ACA, this means everyone can have access the health coverage they need.
LGBT-identified individuals are also at an increased risk for mental health issues like depression, suicide, anxiety, and eating disorders, compared to their heterosexual or cis-gender counterparts. Thanks to the ACA, there is more integration of behavioral health with psychical health care, helping physicians catch mental health disorders sooner, and making mental health treatment more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Through the work of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth and the newly formed Commission on Elder LGBT Support, Massachusetts continues to pave the way in forward thinking policy that reduces health disparities for LGBT-identified people in the Commonwealth.
Executive Office Approves New Leaders for Elder Affairs, Transitional Assistance posted on Apr 22
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services recently announced appointments in two key positions – the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Department of Transitional Assistance. We are pleased to welcome Secretary Alice Bonner and Commissioner Jeff McCue. Alice Bonner is a nationally known …Continue Reading Executive Office Approves New Leaders for Elder Affairs, Transitional Assistance
THE OPIOID CRISIS: Governor’s Working Group Hears From The Community posted on Apr 9
Four listening sessions. Hundreds of voices. “My daughter felt ashamed, isolated. Stigma keeps kids from getting help.” -Jennifer “We need to create compelling reasons for parents to come to the table and have conversations and we are not talking about middle school and high school. …Continue Reading THE OPIOID CRISIS: Governor’s Working Group Hears From The Community
From Serving Homeless To Setting Policy: Meet Dr. Monica Bharel posted on Feb 25
We are proud to welcome a champion of human rights and health care for everyone. From tackling homelessness to reducing disparities in care, Dr. Monica Bharel, our new Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, will bring experience and passion to the task of keeping …Continue Reading From Serving Homeless To Setting Policy: Meet Dr. Monica Bharel