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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services releases update of steps to improve health of LGBT people

January 12, 2012

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today released a summary update of actions it has taken to promote the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people throughout HHS programs and activities.

The update includes a sampling of some of the high-profile actions taken by HHS through 2011, including issuing federal regulations ensuring equal hospital visitation rights; guidance to states to ensure a same-sex partner’s assets are not taken by the state when the partner enters a long-term care facility; and development of LGBT data collection questions for the National Health Interview Survey, which will provide critical data about LGBT health needs.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works closely with HHS on these issues through the New Beginning Initiative, a coalition of organizations it coordinates that advocates for concrete federal administration policy and regulatory changes benefiting the lives of LGBT people. Through the work of the New Beginning Initiative, the Task Force has been a key player in making sure the health needs of LGBT people are addressed at the federal level.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

This report is an important reminder that the health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our families are being addressed at the highest levels of government. Each of the policy changes listed affects real people and real lives — from being able to designate a loved one to see you in the hospital, to working to eliminate LGBT health disparities through better research and data. We commend HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Obama administration for their efforts supporting the health and well-being of LGBT people. These victories are just the beginning — not the end — of what needs to be done to ensure full equality for LGBT people in health settings. We look forward to our continuing work with HHS to address the critical health needs of LGBT people and our families.

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