U.S. LGBT getting better healthcare access

March 26, 2013 at 12:06 AM

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have health disparities and are more likely to be uninsured, but a U.S. official says access is improving.

"Shortly after the Affordable Care Act was enacted, President Obama asked me to identify steps we could take at the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the health and well-being of LGBT Americans," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of HHS, said in a statement.

"I am proud to say that we have been working hard to ensure LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans."

For example, HHS released rules requiring Medicare and Medicaid-participating hospitals to allow visitation rights for same-sex partners, Sebelius said.

"This means LGBT Americans now have the same opportunities as other Americans to be with their families and loved ones when they are sick," Sebelius said.

In addition, because of the Affordable Care Act, the major national health surveys are beginning to include data on LGBT populations.

"This will give us the information we need to target and reduce disparities among this group going forward," Sebelius said.

"We have also formed an internal working group to ensure we're developing and coordinating policies targeted at increasing access to care for LGBT Americans and addressing their special healthcare needs."

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