HRC Hails Healthcare Equality Efforts Nation-wideOnline Only Thursday, June 30th, 2011
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has expressed support and appreciation for healthcare facilities nationwide after conducting a survey revealing marked gains in healthcare equality. Although the HRC survey indicates progress regarding fairness in America’s healthcare system, it also highlights several obstacles that must be overcome to achieve true equality for LGBT patients.
The annual Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) survey found that a promising 90 percent of U.S. healthcare facilities include sexual orientation in their Patient Bill of Rights and Non-Discrimination Policy’s. However, explicit gender identity and visitation policies are notably absent from nearly half of all healthcare establishments.
In an effort to cultivate consistent healthcare policies for all citizens, the Department of Health and Human Services launched an initiative that requires recipients of Medicare and Medicaid funding to protect the visitation rights of LGBT patients. Additionally, new standards have been introduced by The Joint Commission (which is responsible for the accreditation of U.S. hospitals), to promote LGBT-inclusive policies.
HRC President Joe Solmonese issued a statement today highlighting the importance of continuing such efforts to achieve equal healthcare rights for LGBT patients, stating, “Over the past year landmark rules and regulations regarding LGBT healthcare equality have been introduced, but there is work left to be done for healthcare facilities to fulfill the spirit of these policies.”
“…This is a healthcare emergency that must be addressed in order to save lives,” Solmonese said.
The HRC is not alone in recognizing the need for LGBT-friendly healthcare reforms. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stressed the need to resolve existing policy disparities and called for more federal research and data collection on the health of LGBT people. In an effort to further LGBT rights, IOM Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced plans to integrate questions on sexual orientation into national data collection efforts by 2013, in addition to collecting information on gender identity.
A number of healthcare facilities also advocate fair and equal policies for LGBT patients, such as the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. In a message to his fellow healthcare providers, CEO Mark Laret stated, “I encourage my colleagues across the country to make these policies part of their culture.”
He added, “Equal care is the essence of health care.”
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