Today, we joined 180 diverse civil rights local and national organizations in thanking President Obama and U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for their work in passing the landmark health care protections.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already reduced the number of uninsured Americans by millions. As a teaser for NCTE’s health care “know your rights” guide for transgender people, to be released next week, here are two other important protections transgender people need to know about the Affordable Care Act:
- Pre-existing condition exclusions. Beginning in 2014, health insurance plans cannot refuse to cover you because you have a pre-existing condition, including because you are transgender or HIV positive. For people 18 years old and under, this protection is already in effect. Until 2014, the ACA provides for temporary pre-existing condition insurance plans (www.pcip.gov), which make health insurance available to people who have been denied insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition and have been without health insurance for at least the last 6 months.
- Coverage denials. The ACA creates new rights and protections for appealing coverage denials by your plan for any reason. In addition, it may be unlawful for a plan to deny coverage for services that are included in your plan solely because you are transgender or because of the gender under which you are enrolled in the plan. For example, it may be unlawful for a plan that receives federal financial assistance to deny coverage for a prostate screening
The letter to President Obama and Secretary Sebelius captures the importance of the health reforms not just for transgender people, but for all people:
Two years after the ACA’s enactment, the law has taken root and is already improving the lives of individuals and families in the communities we serve. The law’s investment in community based health care and prevention are critical, including support for expanding the reach of community health centers and targeted Community Transformation Grants to address social determinants of health. Affordability mechanisms, such as small business health care tax credits, and insurance market reforms, including ending discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions, have improved access to health coverage for many workers and families. Thanks to the ACA, more of our seniors and people with disabilities can now afford their medications, and more of our young adults are holding on to health coverage through their parents’ plans. The rule requiring no co-pays for a wide-range of preventive health services, including a broad set of immunizations, cervical cancer screenings and contraception, will also significantly enhance the health of many, especially low-income underserved communities for whom even modest costs present a barrier. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), which was critical to updating and modernizing the Indian Health System to provide health care to 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The ACA is the most significant piece of health disparities legislation enacted in the past four decades. As a coalition made up of minority health advocacy groups, professional associations, and trade organizations, we continue to promote and defend the ACA and the steps it will take to increase health equity, and support the legislation’s full funding and implementation.
Read the full letter below.