LGBT-inclusive Health Equity and Accountability Act introduced in U.S. House

The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 was introduced in the U.S. House this week by members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprising the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The bill, which complements the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and focuses on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, recognizes the importance of including LGBT people in addressing health disparities of minority populations through significant LGBT inclusion throughout the bill.

This includes provisions for robust data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity in health care settings; explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; and an Institute of Medicine study on privacy concerns for certain minority populations, including LGBT racial and ethnic minorities.

The measure also requires strategies for studying and preventing HIV/AIDS among minority populations, including men who have sex with men; requires culturally and linguistically appropriate care and services in health care settings for LGBT people and people with physical and mental disabilities; and includes sex education programs that teach accurate, age-appropriate information that cultivate a respectful dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity.

In order to achieve true health equity and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities, it is vital that legislation reflect the diversity of communities of color and the disproportionate health challenges facing communities such as LGBT people of color. As with others impacted by structural barriers to health equity, LGBT people – and particularly LGBT people of color – are forced go twice the distance with only half the resources, as our newly released report, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, demonstrates. The Health Equity and Accountability Act marks a step toward addressing this critical issue.