New Campaign Helps LGBT New Yorkers Access Health Care
A new campaign was launched on June 20 to reach the estimated 25 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers who have no health insurance. The campaign by the LGBT Task Force of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) is the first of its kind to focus on providing information to LGBT people about more affordable health plans that will soon be available through the New York State Health Benefit Exchange.
"For LGBT New Yorkers, those benefits cannot come soon enough," said David Sandman, Senior Vice President of the New York State Health Foundation, which hosted today's briefing for LGBT advocates and media. "Numerous studies have found that LGBT people are uninsured and experience health disparities at disproportionately high rates."
More than one million New Yorkers are expected to gain coverage through the Exchange, which has been created under the Affordable Care Act. Starting Oct. 1, low-income uninsured New Yorkers will be able to use the Exchange to apply for free or low-cost health insurance through an expanded Medicaid program, while uninsured people with moderate incomes will be able to apply for financial aid to help them purchase private health plans.
"Health reform will create desperately-needed access to care for the members of the LGBT community," said Jay Laudato, executive director of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea. "Providing information on the new coverage choices will better prepare people to make smart choices about their health insurance come October."
LGBT Task Force Co-Chairs Lois Uttley and Mark Hannay said outreach will start at the June 30 PrideFest in Manhattan, and will continue throughout the summer and fall. The campaign was piloted earlier this month at Rockland County Pride and reached more than 1,000 people. Those who sign up will be contacted with more information just before Oct. 1.
Kellan Baker from the LGBT Health Exchanges Project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., provided a national overview at the briefing.
"LGBT health is an LGBT equality issue," he said. "The health reform effort in New York and nationwide offers an unprecedented opportunity for LGBT advocates, consumer health advocates and policymakers to work together to address LGBT health disparities and to make sure LGBT people and their families can get the health care they need."
Representatives from Empire State Pride Agenda and The Center said the new coverage options would help about 130,000 uninsured LGBTs in New York City, and about 230,000 individuals.
"Increasing access to health care for some of New York’s most underserved citizens will significantly improve health outcomes for LGBT New Yorkers," said the Pride Agenda’s Jonathan Lang. "We must continue to work closely with New York State to ensure LGBT culturally competent care is made readily available all across New York State."
The Center’s Megan Fisk estimated that 17 percent of same-sex couples in the greater New York metro area were raising children. These families are twice as likely to live in poverty, and some work for companies that do not offer coverage to same-sex partners and their families. The ACA will help provide better options for these people, she said.
LGBT people disproportionately lack health insurance coverage and experience health disparities. The ACA promises to cover more than 1 million New Yorkers, many of whom will be LGBT people. As New York moves forward with implementation of the ACA, particularly with the creation of the new health insurance marketplace known as the New York State Health Benefit Exchange, LGBT communities will have new opportunities and challenges to get people enrolled in new coverage options. Enrollment in New York’s exchange opens on Oct. 1, 2013 for coverage that starts on Jan. 1, 2014.
"Health Care for All New York is really excited to be leading this new outreach initiative in New York’s LGBT communities," said Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign, a statewide coalition of more than 150 consumer advocacy organizations dedicated to bringing the consumer voice to the health policy conversation. "Joining forces with our allies in the LGBT Task Force, our goal is to get as many uninsured LGBT New Yorkers as possible into good, affordable coverage by 2014."
For more info on the outreach efforts, visit www.hcfany.org