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March 20, 2017

Tom Price Has Been Head of HHS for 10 Days and Already Agency Harming LGBT People

The New Civil Rights Movement
By David Badash
Dr. Tom Price, the man who spent the past six years as a congressman gunning to kill ObamaCare, is now in a position to do so as President Donald Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Republican health care plan will, if passed and signed into law, in the next decade rob over 50 million Americans of health care coverage. The program will harm seniors the most.

But even before he accomplished harming many of America's seniors and millions of others, Price, officially in office just 10 days, has already harmed LGBT seniors.

A Dept. of Health and Human Services annual survey to help HHS determine which services are needed most for seniors has been gutted of information specifically about LGBT seniors. Yes, LGBT seniors, and many LGBT people have different health needs, which the Obama administration realized and thus began to collect data on. That survey is used in part to allocate about $3 billion in funding for seniors. Removing LGBT people from the data harms the LGBT community short term and long term.

Since 2014, under the Obama administration and thanks to LGBT organizations' lobbying efforts, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP) has included questions "that would help identify the amount of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elderly people who live in the U.S. and participate in services," NBC News reports.

Those questions, for example, helped researchers learn there are about 3 million LGBTQ people overt the age of 55 in the U.S.

The only change to the survey under Dr. Price and the Trump administration is the removal of questions, like the one below, about LGBT people:

Why is this information important?

"The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants is an annual, national survey of people who receive select services funded under the Older Americans Act, or OAA, the primary vehicle for delivering social support and nutrition programs to older adults in our country," the Wisconsin Gazette explains. "These essential programs include home delivered meals, congregant meals, transportation, caregiver support, and senior centers. The survey obtains performance outcome information, identifies service gaps, and supports program improvements. Policymakers and advocates rely on data to ensure OAA programs are meeting their goals without leaving anyone out."

Calling thew funding "a critical safety net," the Gazette notes "LGBT people face acute levels of income insecurity."

"By removing this data, the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Price risk erasing the experiences LGBT seniors and people with disabilities and making it impossible for HHS to identify and end disparities and discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs."

LGBT organizations were not notified about the changes.

Michael Adams, CEO of Services and Advocacy for SAGE, the nation's largest network for LGBTQ older adults, told NBC News, "This was a stealth effort to strip LGBT elders out of the survey without anybody noticing."

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told NBC News in a statement, "The Trump Administration is literally attempting to erase the LGBTQ community from the fabric of American history."

"Our LGBTQ seniors, many of whom survived the HIV and AIDS epidemic, do not deserve to have the government once again brush them off from obtaining transportation services, caregiver support, and even delivered meals that fit their needs," Ellis added.

SAGE has a petition you can sign.

Read the original article online here.

Media Inquiries

Christina DaCosta
Director of Communications
917-553-3328
cdacosta@sageusa.org

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