10 Nov Pro-LGBT Provisions Go Unnoticed in New Health Care Bill
Amid all the fuss over the abortion battle in the most recent iteration of health care legislation, the LGBT lobby was able to include four different pro-LGBT provisions into the bill without much notice from anyone.
The most notable of these provisions is the inclusion of language from the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act. Currently, all domestic partnership benefits provided by employer-paid health insurance plans are taxed as income by the federal government, while benefits for heterosexual spouses are not. Under the Tax Equity Act, these taxes would be removed, essentially circumventing domestic partnership or same-sex marriage legislation and providing a marriage-only benefit to same-sex couples.
Another provision, previously offered in Congress as the Ending Health Disparities for LGBT American Act, will direct public funds towards tracking health disparities based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Similar tracking is currently performed according to race, economic state, age and other characteristics.
Additionally, the bill provides public funding for comprehensive sex education programs that explicitly address LGBT behavior, at a time when the federal government is cutting all funding to abstinence-only education.
And finally, under the Early Treatment for HIV Act the bill will expand Medicaid coverage for the treatment of HIV. Currently, patients with HIV must be diagnosed with AIDS before qualifying for Medicaid programs. Under the new legislation, individuals will qualify for Medicaid programs upon diagnosis, literally adding years to the amount of time HIV patients will be able to access benefits.