Last month while I was in Chicago, I had the opportunity to attend a great event hosted by Equality Illinois to discuss the President’s commitment to combating barriers and promoting equality for LGBT people and underscore some of the important work that is being undertaken at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Some of the efforts that I shared highlight the importance of equality, including the updated Health Plan Finder tool on Healthcare.gov. This update will enable all LGBT Americans to search specifically for insurance plans that include coverage for domestic partners, compare the cost sharing and benefit choices of health plans, and choose the best option to meet their needs; including finding coverage for all members of the family. Individuals can also access Healthcare.gov’s regular features, such as sorting based on enrollment, out-of-pocket expenses or other key categories.
To coordinate among the different offices and operating divisions in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an LGBT Coordinating Council was established with representation from senior levels from each of the operating divisions and staff offices in the Department. Most recently, through the work of the committee, SAMHSA and Healthy People 2020 partnered to develop a new resource kit, Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations Information and Resource Kit. The resource kit is a compilation of fact sheets that identify top health issues for LGBT populations and also provides definitions for LGBT-related terminology and comprehensive array of web-based resources. Additionally, surveillance and research data about and for LGBT populations are also in the works.
In one of the most exciting initiatives in government, HHS has been working with other federal departments in the support and recent re-launch of StopBullying.gov. Recognizing the important and unique considerations for strategies to prevent and address bullying in LGBT youth, StopBullying.gov has a dedicated area for LGBT Youth. Through efforts such as StopBullying.gov and collaboration with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the needs of LGBT youth can be addressed.
While this is only a snapshot of LGBT activities being undertaken at HHS and at SAMHSA, it demonstrates the reality of the commitment to LGBT health. For more information on the Department of Health and Human Services work for LGBT communities please visit the Office of Minority Health, for information on SAMHSA’s work for LGBT communities, please visit SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity.
Pam Hyde is the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the Department of Health & Human Services.