At the heart of this administration is a core belief in equality. This belief means ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans have the same protections and opportunities as their family members, neighbors, friends, and colleagues. Among the many areas where we are working to ensure that fairness for LGBT individuals is health care.
All Americans, no less LGBT individuals, deserve the right to accessible, affordable, quality health care. Observing LGBT Pride Month in June spotlights our commitment to addressing the special health needs of LGBT Americans and reducing health disparities for them and members of other vulnerable communities.
Studies have shown that health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity are due partly to lower rates of health coverage. LGBT individuals have encountered discrimination in the health care system for decades, and many studies have shown that they are affected by chronic disease at a higher rate than other Americans.
The Affordable Care Act has already made significant progress toward ending some of the worst insurance company abuses and toward helping ensure that LGBT Americans have access to coverage when they need it most. For example, the Affordable Care Act ends lifetime dollar limits on benefits, allowing for long-term comprehensive treatment of chronic diseases.
In addition, the federal website, HealthCare.gov, designed to help all consumers find the health insurance best suited to their needs, makes it easy to locate health insurers that cover domestic partners.
The Affordable Care Act will give all Americans, including LGBT Americans, improved access to health coverage through an expanded, stronger Medicaid program and new affordable Insurance Exchanges, marketplaces for quality, affordable health insurance. And as of last fall, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children because of pre-existing health conditions -- a protection that will extend to every American in 2014. Similarly, insurers will no longer be able to turn someone away just because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Additionally under the new law, many Americans, including LGBT individuals, can now get vital preventive services, such as mammograms, HIV testing, and other cancer screenings, with no co-pay or deductible.
The Department of Health and Human Services continues to address the specific health concerns of LGBT Americans, by working to incorporate data collection on LGBT populations into national health surveys and issuing rules requiring hospitals to allow same-sex partners the ability to visit each other in the hospital.
Our efforts haven't stopped with health care. When confronted with the tragic suicides of LGBT teens around the country who had been bullied, this administration launched a historic effort to stop the bullying of LGBT children and youth in their homes, schools, and communities. We've also launched a new website called StopBullying.gov, a one-stop shop where kids, teens, parents, and educators can go online to learn about preventing and stopping bullying.
During Pride Month, we celebrate our accomplishments while focusing on the work still to be done. Our department is committed to improving the health and well-being of all Americans, including LGBT Americans, and we look forward to continuing this work during Pride Month and beyond.
For more information about how the Affordable Care Act is giving LGBT Americans more control over their health care, see http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/01/new-options-for-lgbt-americans.html and http://www.healthcare.gov/news/brochures/lgbt-top5.pdf