Why It’s Important That HHS is Tracking LGBT Health Info
This is only the first step, but it’s a big one because it marks a significant change in how healthcare and politics work. The Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that in addition to new standards for gathering and reporting data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, the agency will now gather health data on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. This is part of the Affordable Care Act, which gives HHS discretion in collecting information about disparities in health care.
While this news might not be as attention-grabbing as gay marriage, it’s important on a really deep level. Queer and transgender people often face challenges when it comes to getting health care, from emergency room staff refusing to treat them, to not getting spousal coverage (at least, in the many states where same-sex couples can’t marry), among other barriers. But without the information to back up the experiences and stories of LGBT folks, it’s hard to push for change. This also creates a more consistent standard for the different foundations and agencies that work with LGBT populations, which will make it easier to compare them and gauge the effectiveness of their efforts.
And it’s something to be glad for.