This week marks the 50th anniversary of the momentous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where hundreds of thousands of Americans mobilized for equal rights. And, while our nation has made great strides in the 50 years since – much work remains to be done.
Disparities in health and health outcomes persist. Black and Latino Americans have a rate of uninsurance that is nearly three times as high as their White counterparts. Insurance coverage is strongly related to health outcomes, and because of this minority populations are more likely to have worse health outcomes.
But inequality today is not limited to race. Health disparities and a lack of affordable, quality health insurance also prevails among members of the LGBT community, women, young adults, and people with disabilities.
Factors vary by state, and here in New York we have been working hard to level the playing field in the health arena through implementation of our New York State of Health insurance marketplace. HCFANY and our fellow advocates, policymakers, and stakeholders have been working hard to make our insurance marketplace as consumer-friendly and affordable as possible. And while we are ecstatic at the results we are seeing, this is still a work in progress. It may not be the answer to health disparities in our state, it is at least a beginning.
Let this week be a reminder of Dr. King’s vision and of not just how far we have come since 1963, but also of how far we still need to go. Here at HCFANY, we will keep marching on. We hope you will too!
Raising Women’s Voices summer interns Delaine Powerful, left, and Olivia Cappello, at the Get Covered New York booth Sunday during NYC’s Pride Fest.Today’s post comes from guest blogger Lois Uttley, of Raising Women’s Voices
Health equality for LGBT New Yorkers! That was the message Sunday at the Get Covered New York booth during NYC’s annual PrideFest celebration. Staffers and interns from Health Care for All NY (HCFANY) member organizations teamed up with volunteers from NYC for Action under the banner of Get Covered NY to bring LGBT New Yorkers the great news about new, more affordable health coverage options coming this fall. One in four LGBT New Yorkers has no health insurance, and LGBT people suffer a variety of health disparities. When the New York State Health Exchange opens for enrollment October 1, uninsured New Yorkers will be able to apply for free or low-cost coverage under an expanded Medicaid program, or financial aid to help with the cost of a private health insurance plan. “Really? I had no idea!” exclaimed one excited woman who stopped by the Get Covered NY table Sunday. LGBT New Yorkers were especially happy to learn that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under the Affordable Care Act. That means no discrimination in the New York State Exchange and in the health plans to be offered to participating insurers. HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force will be speaking to LGBT organizations around the state and tabling at community events throughout the summer and fall. If you would like to request a presentation or participation in an event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
HCFANY launched a new campaign today to provide outreach and education to uninsured LGBT New Yorkers around the new health options that will soon be available via the New York State Health Benefit Exchange. While health statistics on LGBT populations are not yet widely collected (something we are pushing to change) experts estimate that 1 in 4 LGBT people in the state are uninsured.
The outreach campaign will be headed up by HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force to help prepare people for the health insurance choices they may need to make once enrollment on the Exchange opens on October 1st.
The campaign was kicked off by a press briefing hosted by the New York State Health Foundation to bring attention to the unique needs of LGBT New Yorkers, illustrate how the Affordable Care Act is working to address them, and to lay out next steps.
- Kellan Baker, Director, LGBT State Exchanges Project, Center for American Progress
- Megan Fisk, Director of Family Services, LGBT Community Services Center of New York
- Mark Hannay, Director, Metro New York Health Care For All Campaign
- Jonathan Lang, Director of Governmental Projects and Community
Development, Empire State Pride Agenda
- Jay Laudato, Executive Director, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
- David Sandman, Senior Vice President, New York State Health Foundation
- Lois Uttley, Director, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need
The new coverage options afforded by the ACA will benefit LGBT communities by providing wider access to affordable health care, increased data collection (which will work to inform future policy decisions), and a new ban on discrimination based on HIV status and sex, including gender identity.
The LGBT Task Force has been working with state Exchange officials to make sure that same-sex couples have the same opportunities for affordable health coverage. This includes allowing couples to pool their premium subsidies together to purchase family health plans on the Exchange.
Outreach will start at the June 30 PrideFest in Manhattan, and continue through the summer and fall.
Since most (all?) of our readers are not members of the press, I thought I would share some more resources from last week’s HCFANY press briefing. Posted above is a video put together by the good folks at New American Media, who co-hosted the event. Click below for copies of the presentations from the event.
- “The Affordable Care Act: What is it & what does it mean for New York?” Elisabeth Benjamin, Community Service Society
- “Update on the New York Health Benefit Exchange,” Sara Rothstein, New York Health Benefit Exchange
- “Latino/a Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act,” Becca Telzak, Make the Road New York