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.
A Summer of Friendship and Growth posted on Aug 22
Shannon Curtin’s second summer in the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Urban Youth Collaborative Internship Program (UYCP) was spent, among other things, leading a dance party for two at Resources for Human Development, Boston, Inc. Curtin who grew close with one particular individual, said she …Continue Reading A Summer of Friendship and Growth
Coffee and a Familiar Face posted on Aug 11
Braintree’s Rick Swan, who is legally blind, runs a small coffee shop in the lobby of One Ashburton Place in Boston – home to many state agencies including EOHHS. Swan started running the shop with his wife, who is also legally blind, approximately four years …Continue Reading Coffee and a Familiar Face
A New Hope for Women with Addictions posted on Aug 8
The second phase of the Women’s Recovery from Addictions Program (WRAP) in Taunton opened in July, 2016 officially closing the chapter on the day when women with substance use disorders are sent to prison for treatment. State officials who recently toured the new unit including Governor …Continue Reading A New Hope for Women with Addictions