Sasha Buchert, Communications Manager with Basic Rights Oregon, shares her response to the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act and the impact on the LGBT community.
The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the Affordable Care Act will have a profound and direct impact on the ability of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Oregonians to access health care. The Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provisions and prohibitions on unfair insurance practices provide unprecedented protections for LGBT people’s access to safe and affordable care.
This ruling will mean that LGBT Oregonians will have access to medically necessary health care and will not be forced to access more costly forms of care such as emergency room visits.
Two of the specific groundbreaking protections that will directly impact LGBT Oregonians include:
Prohibition on denying care based on arbitrary condition-based exclusions: Before passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could-and did-deny coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions and routinely charged higher premiums to people with a transgender medical history or people with HIV or AIDS. Many within our community have been denied critical health care coverage such as cancer screenings simply because of his or her gender identity or HIV status. The Affordable Care Act removed these exclusionary limitations, and will have a direct impact on our most vulnerable populations who will no longer be denied access to medically necessary health care because of who they are.
Access to health care: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans are much less likely to be insured, and partnered gay and lesbian couples are as much as twice as likely to be uninsured than opposite-sex couples. Without consistent access to marriage or domestic partnerships across the country, gay and lesbian couples are less able to access employer-sponsored insurance through their partners. Transgender people face unique barriers to employment, making it less likely they’ll be insured. A recent survey found 90% of uninsured transgender Americans delayed seeking health care when sick or injured because they can’t afford it. Increasing the pool of the uninsured will provide access to critical preventive care such as cancer screenings and routine medical services.
There are a multitude of other ways in which the Act will help bring LGBT health equality to Oregon such as the implementation of data collection on LGBT health needs to reduce health disparities and increased access to Medicaid services.
I applaud the Supreme Court ruling and look forward to building a health care system that lives up to Oregon’s promise of equality and that meets the needs of our most vulnerable community members. One of Basic Rights Oregon’s primary campaigns is focused on bringing full transgender health care equality to Oregon, and this ruling will help move this work forward.