March 18, 2010 7:39PM
Today, the House Rules Committee released the reconciliation bill through which it will vote on the measure that passed the Senate in December. We are deeply disappointed that, after months of lobbying for their inclusion, important measures specifically addressing the needs of LGBT people and people with HIV – ending the unfair taxation of employer-provided domestic partner health benefits, permitting states to offer early HIV treatment under Medicaid, collecting critical health data on LGBT people and addressing discrimination in health care – are not a part of this bill. On a mixed note, this bill restores $50 million to fund failed abstinence-only sex education programs, but also provides $75 million for comprehensive programs that also address the prevention of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. According the House leadership, a vote on this measure is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
While we are saddened that the House has abandoned provisions that would make care more accessible and affordable to our community, we recognize that the health reform measure will still help all Americans, including LGBT people. Important reforms like eliminating pre-existing condition limitations and expanding Medicaid will significantly impact people living with HIV and AIDS. We urge Congress to pass this legislation, addressing the nation’s dire need for reform in our health care system and clearing the way for Congress to act on the many issues it needs to address, including ones of great importance to the LGBT community.
HRC has lobbied for our inclusion in health care reform since the process began last spring, both on the Hill and at the White House, working with key leaders like Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), as well as other LGBT and progressive organizations. We have reached out to our members to generate grassroots support in targeted states and districts and engaged grasstops to influence particular Members and Senators. And we are not giving up on fighting for the health and well-being of LGBT people and people with HIV and AIDS. Measures such as the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act and the Early Treatment for HIV Act have been part of our legislative agenda for years, and they remain priorities for HRC. We will continue to seek every opportunity to move these important pieces of legislation, on their own or as part of other larger legislative vehicles. We remain committed to fighting for equality and fairness in access to health care and in all aspects of the lives of LGBT people.
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