LGBT Advocates Disappointed Rules for Community Care Fail to Protect LGBT Seniors

January 23, 2014

The undersigned LGBT organizations are deeply disappointed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will not add explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT and other consumers to Medicaid’s Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program. Our organizations along with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, have urged HHS over the past three years to adopt these protections to ensure low-income older adults and people with disabilities can receive needed services and supports without fear of refusal, harassment, or other discrimination because of who they are. The protections were not included in a final rule issued last week to strengthen standards for the long-running program.

HHS seemingly based its decision to reject these LGBT protections, which have been included in other HHS programs, on the notion that general nondiscrimination protections already exist. Despite being made aware of the critical need for explicit LGBT consumer protections, as well as protections on the basis of religion, marital status, and source of payment, HHS simply stated in a new HCBS regulation that these protections were “not necessary.”

HHS’s surprising statement that protections for LGBT seniors are “not necessary” is contradicted by reports from the Institute of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which have found that discrimination against LGBT people in health settings is widespread. A survey of providers, LGBT consumers, and family members conducted with the National Senior Citizens Law Center found that most believed anti-LGBT discrimination was a problem in long-term care settings and many had witnessed discrimination. Failure to include explicit protections undermines efforts prevent anti-LGBT discrimination in home- and community-based care.

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NCTE Panels and Presentations at Creating Change 2013

January 16, 2013

The National Center for Transgender Equality is excited to present a number of panels and workshops at the upcoming 25th national Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Learn about some of our presentations below and we hope you will be able to connect with us in Atlanta, GA.

Learn more about Creating Change here.

Thursday, January 24, 2012

3:40 PM – 4:40 PM
GLAAD New Media Training Institute
Organizations Making an Impact with New Media
NCTE Director of Communications Vincent Paolo Villano, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Resident Filmmaker Jesse Begenyi, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Director of Communications and Digital Strategy Jenn Sturm

Friday, January 25, 2012

10:45 AM – 12:15 PM
Cruel Exclusions: The Fight to End Health Care Discrimination Against Transgender People
NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Social Media, Ethics, and the LGBT Community
NCTE Director of Communications Vincent Paolo Villano, Freedom to Marry Director of Online Programs Michael Crawford, Blue State Digital Business Development Manager Leone Kraus

3:00 PM – 6:15 PM
Transforming Your LGBT Organization to be Fully Trans-Inclusive
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and Transgender Civil Rights Project Director Lisa Mottet, Esq.

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Senator Bennet Introduces LGBT Elder Americans Act

September 28, 2012

Last week, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the LGBT Elder Americans Act of 2012. If passed, this bill would increase federal supports to millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people through the Older Americans Act (OAA), which is the “major vehicle” for promoting the delivery of social and nutrition services to older Americans and their caregivers.

Among the bill’s proposals for the OAA is an amendment that would designate LGBT elders as a group in “greatest social need,” which is currently defined as need caused by non-economic factors, such as physical and mental disabilities, language barriers, and cultural, social, or geographic isolation, including isolation caused by racial or ethnic status. This designation would drive funding of LGBT elder programs and services, including greater inclusion of LGBT elders in general aging program design, deliver and outreach. It would also require cultural competency training of staff and agencies and service providers and incentivize organizations to adopt nondiscrimination policies and training. Finally, it would necessitate data collection on LGBT elders to better understand their needs and appropriately tailor services.

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Re-Cap: Trans Issues at the Aging in America Conference

April 6, 2012

I was pleased to be able to attend and present last week at Aging in America, the nation’s largest multi-disciplinary conference on aging issues, which this year was held in the nation’s capital. I attended a number of great sessions on topics such as cultural competence in aging services, the experiences of transgender people at mid-life, improving responses to issues of intimacy and sexuality in long-term care settings, and how the Affordable Care Act benefits multicultural elders. There was an incredible track of LGBT aging programming at this year’s conference, with more than a dozen LGBT-focused workshops.

I was privileged to join Karen Fredriksen-Golden of the University of Washington School of Social Work and Loree Cook-Daniels of FORGE Transgender Aging Network for a panel on what some of the most recent transgender survey research can tell us about trans older adults. In addition to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, we discussed the recent Aging and Health Report on LGBT older adults, surveys by FORGE on sexuality and sexual violence among older adults, and research documented in the new book The Lives of Transgender People.

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Transgender Older Adults Featured in First-Ever LGBT Aging Publication

November 17, 2011

In a groundbreaking LGBT-themed issue of Public Policy & Aging Report, a publication of the National Academy on an Aging Society, NCTE Policy Counsel Harper Jean Tobin outlines the policy agenda of transgender older adults. From accessing healthcare to the mistreatment of transgender older adults in long-term care facilities, Tobin reviews the issues that diminish the quality of life for a growing segment of the transgender community. The introduction of Tobin’s entry called, “Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults,” reads:

[L]ittle is known about the growing population of older transgender people and their needs (Institute of Medicine, 2011). Some older transgender women and men transitioned from one gender to another at a time when trans people were invisible, legal rights were nonexistent, and doctors recommended starting a new life and avoiding other trans people. Others come out and transition later in life, and may face the loss of existing sources of social and financial support. Trans people are commonly challenged and mistreated in all kinds of settings over what name they go by, how they dress, which restroom they use, and whether their ID matches their gender identity.

Tobin’s research is part of NCTE’s expanding federal aging agenda, which includes advocating for full Medicare coverage of transition related care, collaborating with SAGE on a Transgender Aging Advocacy Initiative, and working to improve cultural competency in aging services and long-term care through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Read the full publication here.

Read the press release from SAGE here.


Medicare Has You Covered

August 15, 2011

As part of NCTE’s federal aging policy agenda, we are releasing this guide on navigating Medicare for transgender beneficiaries. Transgender people often face confusion around what is covered in their Medicare benefits, both for transition-related care and for routine preventive care.

This guide makes clear that Medicare does cover:

1) Routine preventive care regardless of gender markers, and

2) Medically necessary hormone therapy.

Medicare has instituted a special billing code to end denials of coverage based on apparent gender discrepancies. Now doctors and hospitals can use this code to override Medicare’s computer systems to ignore gender discrepancies on a person’s record. Unfortunately, Medicare still does not cover medically necessary sex reassignment surgery.

This document goes into detail about what is covered, appealing denials of coverage, and reporting instances of disrespect, discrimination and harassment related to your gender identity or transgender status.

Read the full guide below.

View this document on Scribd

What Happens When We Get Older?

July 15, 2011

As the US population ages, ensuring that our society adequately supports us all as we get older becomes more important than ever. Researchers and advocates have recently turned increased attention to LGBT aging issues, highlighting discrimination against LGBT elders in long-term care facilities and in federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. However, there has been little research, discussion or advocacy on transgender older adults. Indeed, the recent Institute of Medicine report on LGBT health identified transgender aging as a major gap in existing health-related research. And the amount that has been written about transgender aging in any field makes for a very short reading list. While many challenges and issues are common to LGBT older adults, we know there are also issues that are particularly important for transgender older adults.

To this end, NCTE and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) are collaborating on the Transgender Aging Advocacy Initiative with the goal of developing an agenda for meeting the public policy needs transgender older adults. By consulting with community leaders, health care providers and policy experts from around the country, we hope to identify achievable policy goals at the state and national level that would materially benefit transgender people as they age, and enable them to live in good health, safety, dignity and independence in their later years. We are examining issues such as long-term care, veteran’s services, economic security, access to transition-related care, aging research, area agencies on aging, and building cultural competence for health care providers.

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