NCTE Celebrates Historic Healthcare Enrollments at the White House Rose Garden

April 9, 2014

Last week, NCTE celebrated the historic enrollment of over 7 million Americans in the Affordable Care Act with President Obama at the White House Rose Garden. President Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, gave remarks on the incredible success of the healthcare reform bill, Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare.” To date, 7.1 million Americans have enrolled in health coverage through the marketplace exchanges, surpassing the Administration’s expectations they set the previous summer.

The President expressed his excitement for the 7.1 million figure as well as for the larger implications of ACA’s success, stating : “Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up and the growth of health care costs is down, and that’s good for our middle class and that’s good for our fiscal future.”

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Although the period for 2014 open enrollment has closed, plans can still be purchased through the exchange in the event of a qualifying change in life circumstances. People who attempted to enroll by the deadline but were unable to due to technical problems with the enrollment website, or because enrollment centers were backed up will receive extensions without facing the nominal tax penalty. M​edicaid plans are also available year-round for those who qualify, and eligibility is greatly expanded in 26 states.

Learn more about your healthcare rights here.

Learn more about LGBT-specific healtcare enrollment information here.


New Video Series Addresses Trans Healthcare Myths

March 11, 2014

On Thursday, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) launched a new online video series entitled, “Debunking the Myths: Transgender Health & Well-Being.” The series seeks to address the stereotypes and misconceptions faced by transgender and gender nonconforming people. HRC plans to release additional videos throughout March 2014.

You can watch the first video in the series below:


D.C. Government Announces Comprehensive Coverage for Transgender Residents

February 27, 2014

Today, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced that public and private health insurance plans that the D.C. government regulates–including Medicaid, D.C. government employee insurance, and private plans sold on D.C.’s health exchange–are required to cover transition-related care.

The new announcement makes D.C. healthcare coverage the most comprehensive plans for transgender Americans in the United States, a direct result of concerted advocacy from local activists, the National Center for Transgender Equality, or NCTE, and the Center for American Progress and other allies.

“This victory reaffirms growing agreement among advocates and the medical community that D.C.’s healthcare nondiscrimination laws require that insurance cover medically necessary transgender healthcare,” said Andy Bowen, NCTE Policy Associate.

“This policy will make D.C.’s healthcare programs and insurance coverage the most comprehensive in the country for the full scope of health care that transgender people need throughout their lives,” said Andrew Cray, Policy Analyst at CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project. “But more importantly, this announcement tells transgender people in the District that their health matters.”

In a bulletin released today, D.C.’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, or DISB, explains that it will view “attempts by companies to limit or deny medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, to be discriminatory.” Beyond that, DISB affirms, “it is the position of the Department that treatment for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit…”

Click the image below to share the victory on Facebook.

Health-Care-FB-Graphic

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9 Things President Obama Can Do to Address Trans Economic Inquality

January 28, 2014

Today, ahead of the annual State of the Union speech,  President Barack Obama took an important step addressing income inequality by raising the minimum wage of new federal workers to $10.10, helping to ease the financial burden of more than 2 million employees. The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes this executive order and urges legislators to take action to raise wages for all low-wage workers in the United States.

However, addressing America’s deepening economic divide, especially for transgender workers who face twice the rate of unemployment as the general population, requires swift action on many other policy areas. The Center has compiled our list of 9 policy matters that the Obama Administration can address without Congressional approval that would go far in closing the economic divide of transgender Americans.

1) Sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination among businesses that contract with the federal government. Doing so would protect 1 in 5 American workers from job discrimination.

2) The Department of Labor should identify, promote and fund best practices for helping transgender people enter or re-enter the workforce.

3) Each federal department and independent agency should adopt a formal policy prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in its programs, activities, and funding.

4) The Department of Labor should include gender identity and sexual orientation measures in economic surveys including the Current Population Survey and the Survey on Income and Program.

5) The Department of Justice should vigorously enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to help end sexual abuse of transgender people in jails, prisons, and police lock-ups, and ensure transgender inmates are treated safely and respectfully. Enforcement of strong PREA rules helps ensure formerly incarcerated transgender people can smoothly re-integrate into American society and find jobs.

6) President Obama should pressure House Speaker John Boehner to heed the call of a majority of Americans (80%) who support strong LGBT workplace protections by putting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.

7) Provide a path to citizenship for the estimated quarter of a million undocumented immigrants who are transgender or LGB by passing commonsense immigration reform.

8) The Department of Homeland Security should expand the use of alternatives to secure detention and end the detention of asylum-seekers, LGBT people, people with HIV, and other vulnerable groups.

9) The Department of Education should issue guidance clarifying the application of Title IX nondiscrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming youth, including the right of transgender students to dress, access school facilities, programs and campus housing, and otherwise be treated in accord with their gender identity in a respectful and confidential manner.

 


UN Paper: Trans Health, Rights Must Be at the Center of Development Work

January 27, 2014

A discussion paper on Transgender Health & Human Rights, published by The United Nations Development Programme on January 6, intends to serve as a resource for the UN to better know and serve the interests of transgender people in regard to its work in health, HIV, the rule of law, and development. The paper is intended to ensure that UNDP’s international development work is informed by and advances the health and human rights concerns of transgender people, including issues such as legal gender recognition, violence, discrimination, and transition related health services.

The document is intelligently broken into 8 sections that hold the hand of the reader until giving them the responsibility to act – beginning with terminology, trans history, and statistics, and ending with legal gender recognition, and trans social/cultural inclusion.

The best part of this paper is its recommendations for specific actions UNDP programs should take to be support the rights and health of trans people. These actions range from “Give people the choice to share their preferred name and pronoun in community consultations,” “If previous name or sex details must be used to verify someone’s identity, guarantee they will be kept confidential,” to “Recognize that effective, sustainable responses to HIV should address human rights violations against trans people and enable access to gender-affirming health services,” and “Facilitate dialogue between trans groups and government agencies.”

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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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What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act: New Year Edition

January 9, 2014

You can still sign up for health insurance. Open enrollment goes until March 31, and millions of people have already signed up. You may have heard about a December deadline—but that was only to ensure coverage starting January 1. Check out your options now at HealthCare.gov or your state’s Marketplace website. (Yes, the site is way better now.)

  1. Transgender exclusions are still out there, but we’re making progress. While 5 states (CA, CO, CT, OR, VT) and DC have put plans on notice that exclusions are no longer allowed, and many employers and schools are eliminating them throughout the country, exclusions are still a reality in most individual plans. Information on exclusions won’t usually be available in the plan summaries you can find on HealthCare.gov or your state’s enrollment site, so the best way to find out is to look at the “benchmark plan” that plans in your state are based on. You can find summaries of state benchmark plans on the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight website. If your state’s benchmark doesn’t seem to have an exclusion, it may be worth the effort of tracking down detailed plan documents as you select a plan.
  2. Even with exclusions, insurance is worth having. The reality is that at least in 2014, most of us buying individual plans are going to end up with exclusions. While NCTE and our allies are working hard to get rid of these exclusions, getting some coverage right now is essential to protect your health and financial security. Transgender people need routine screenings and treatment when we’re injured or ill—in fact we are more likely to face many health problems—and all plans will cover these needs.
  3. Preventive care is covered at no cost, regardless of gender. Transgender people have often had coverage denied for screenings or treatments typically associated with one gender or another, such as breast or pelvic exams. As the saying goes, “If you have it, check it.” The ACA requires all preventive care to be covered with no co-pays, and regardless of the gender listed with your insurance company. The federal government has made it clear, for example, that transgender women should be able to get breast exams. However, sometimes a person or a doctor will need to call an insurance company about having this care paid if the insurance company initially denies the coverage because it confuses their computer system. (Speaking of gender markers, we believe it shouldn’t matter which gender you give when you enroll as it won’t be matched with any database, but if you want to be extra cautious you could list the gender in your Social Security record. Either way, this information shouldn’t go to your doctor or affect your coverage.)
  4. It may be more affordable than you think. Subsidies are available to many people to make plans affordable, or even free for some—and 26 states are also expanding Medicaid coverage. Many people with moderate or low incomes, especially those with existing health conditions, will have far lower premiums than before. While a few people could see premiums go up, their plans will also have more generous coverage, including no-cost screenings and other preventive care. While you may have heard about a penalty for not buying coverage by March 31, those who can’t afford the modest penalty are exempt.

For more information, visit Out2Enroll.org, which is a go-to resource for LGBT people on enrolling.


NCTE Commends CDC’s Clarified Breast Cancer Screening Policy

December 20, 2013

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) commends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for clarifying that its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program will cover screening for eligible transgender women and men.  The CDC deserves credit for consulting medical experts and community members and adopting an approach that is both fair and fact-based.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “Under the clarified policy, all transgender women who have taken hormones may receive breast cancer screening under the program, subject to other eligibility standards. Transgender men and gender non-conforming people with a female history continue to be eligible for breast and cervical cancer screening, if applicable.”

The CDC’s clarified policy comes in response to an uninsured transgender woman in Colorado who, in October 2013, was denied access to a breast cancer screening under a federal program administered by the CDC. Her provider pointed to an earlier CDC newsletter stating that its program excluded women who are “not genetically female.”

NCTE and the Human Rights Campaign swiftly condemned the provider’s actions and called on the CDC to investigate the case. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “We applaud the CDC’s clarified policy and urge other public health programs, private insurance plans, and health care providers to adopt similar approaches.”

“The bottom line is that if you have a body part that needs screening, it ought to be screened regardless of your identity,” Keisling said.


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