Task Force applauds Senate introduction of Health Equity and Accountability Act

The Task Force applauds the introduction by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) of the Health Equity and Accountability Act, comprehensive legislation designed to eliminate racial and ethnic minority health disparities. For the first time, the measure recognizes the importance of addressing LGBT health disparities.

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

It would also help establish a strategy for studying and preventing HIV/AIDS among minority populations, including men who have sex with men; culturally and linguistically appropriate care and services in health care settings for LGBT people; and comprehensive sex education programs that teach accurate, age-appropriate information that cultivate a respectful dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force played a pivotal role in developing both the House and Senate versions of the bill.

LGBT people — and particularly LGBT people of color — are forced to go twice the distance with only half the resources, as our reports on black respondents and Latino/a respondents from Injustice at Every Turn: A report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, reveal. The Health Equity and Accountability Act will go a long way to reducing this gap in care and reducing the health disparities suffered by LGBT people.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey says:

In order to achieve true health equity and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities, it is critical that legislation reflect the diversity of communities of color and the disproportionate health challenges facing communities such as LGBT people of color. We commend Senator Akaka for introducing this bill recognizing that, in order to end these disparities, we must work at the intersections of race, class, disability, immigrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Health Equity and Accountability Act marks an important step toward addressing and ending disparities facing these communities.