Fenway Health launches new site
LGBT Health Awareness Week , March 26 - March 30 “is an important time to highlight the progress our country is making to address the unique health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans...” according to a statement released by Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The National Coalition for LGBT Health has sponsored the week since 2003.
Health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity continue to be barriers to health care. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used this week as an opportunity to detail specific health concerns of LGBT Americans. The HHS says it plans to improve the “health and well-being” of LGBT people:
• HealthCare.gov website (a product of Obamacare)will assist in connecting LGBT people with health insurance policies that include coverage of domestic partners.
• HHS plans to increase the number of federally-funded health and demographic surveys that will include LGBT data.
• HHS will advise states about the federal law requiring them to treat LGBT couples the same way it treats straight couples with respect to welfare programs.
• The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will notify states that they may provide same-sex domestic partners of long-term-care Medicaid beneficiaries the same treatment as opposite-sex spouses when it comes to estate recovery, imposition of liens, and transfer of assets. “This includes not seizing or imposing a lien on the home of a deceased beneficiary if the same-sex domestic partner still resides in the home. It also includes allowing Medicaid beneficiaries needing long-term care to transfer the title of a home to a same-sex domestic partner, allowing the partner to remain in the home.”
• HHS will encourage new and existing health training programs, including behavioral health programs (mental health, substance abuse, and HIV) to include LGBT cultural competency curricula.
• HHS will continue to address discrimination, harassment, and violence against all individuals, including LGBT individuals, through domestic violence and other violence prevention programs. This includes recognizing LGBT populations as underserved communities in grant announcements.
• HHS will boost its focus on LGBT youth in all anti-bullying initiatives and make sure that states, schools, and the general public are aware of the resources available.
“For too long, LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve,” HHS says. “That is now changing. HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs. Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.”
Locally, Fenway Health marked the week with the launch of a new website providing resources to enhance top quality care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, www.lgbthealheducation.org. The website will include interactive learning tools for health care staff and clinicians to optimize their care of LGBT people throughout the nation and around the world.
“We have both the responsibility and the opportunity to make sure all people receive effective and sensitive health care, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that starts with providing health care organizations and clinicians with the tools they need to provide that care,” said Harvey Makadon, MD, Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The new website will be a repository of up-to-date information on resources and relevant publications, and will include a calendar of Fenway’s Education Center’s events, as well as archived webinars. An active blog will highlight current LGBT health news and other items.
The site will also include a directory of the Education Center’s faculty, who are a team of LGBT health experts from key organizations that provide training and technical assistance, webinars, medical school grand rounds, and consultation on creating strategic change.
“We hope this new website will be a meaningful way to engage health care staff and clinicians to use our tools and resources and create on-the-ground change in community health centers and other health care organizations,” said Makadon.
For more information, visit www.lgbthealtheducation.org.