With the future of healthcare policy being debated in Congress and throughout the country, we are hopeful that everyone will stay informed about the needs of the LGBTQ communities we serve at PERSAD Center. LGBTQ people face a variety of unique health disparities when compared to the general population. Your voice and involvement are essential to help assure that access to critical services are not disrupted by policy changes.
As the nation grapples with health policies that will impact everyone, here are some of the issues that we are most concerned about:
Who is covered and who loses coverage?
We see many clients who lack financial resources to purchase healthcare coverage. With the Affordable Care Act, more of our clients are covered. If healthcare is not affordable, individuals will go without, or will delay seeking care allowing conditions to become more debilitating and often requiring more invasive treatments. If less individuals have coverage, it will increase the demand on PERSAD Center and agencies like ours that are committed to providing care regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.
What is covered and what is not?
It is a fairly recent development that some aspects of transgender healthcare are being acknowledged and covered. We do not want individuals who identify as transgender to lose access to critical medical interventions. One provision of the Affordable Care Act makes it a requirement for mental health and substance abuse treatment to be a part of insurance plans. If this provision is lost, individuals may have healthcare but not any coverage for their counseling needs. Untreated mental illness and substance abuse negatively impacts us all.
What will happen to state directed healthcare programs funded through Medicaid Expansion monies?
The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid monies given to states to cover their low income citizens. Pennsylvania was one of 22 states that fully implemented Medicaid expansion as a part of its solution to provide coverage to the poor. These monies have allowed states to fund programs to target healthcare issues that are of particular concern and to address special populations that experience health disparities. So, while the federal legislators are considering repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, it is also important to be working with our state legislators re: the state’s healthcare budget and plans.
How will our agency’s employee coverage be impacted?
As a result of the Affordable Care Act, PERSAD Center has seen significant decreases in our healthcare premiums for employees. We were not penalized for an employee’s pre-existing conditions or for being a “high risk” group (workers in mental health services are considered a high risk group). If these policies are rescinded, it will cost PERSAD Center significantly more to provide healthcare coverage for our employees.
While the debates about healthcare policy and costs for all citizens are front and center, I ask each of you to remain especially involved and informed about how the LGBTQ communities will be impacted.