BY Advocate Contributors
March 22 2010 12:25 AM ET
Health care reform was approved by the House Sunday, 219 to 212, providing more than 30 million Americans with access to coverage. But for LGBT Americans, crucial health care provisions will be excluded.
The bill prevents health care providers from denying Americans coverage because of preexisting conditions and expands coverage to nearly 95% of Americans. But the bill does not include LGBT-specific provisions, such as data inclusion, that were included when the House bill first passed last November.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsinsaid that while the bill isn’t perfect, it keeps the legislative door open to pass LGBT health care provisions in the future.
“We will have many opportunities to deal with this legislation’s imperfections,” she said. “We don’t vote on health care reform of this magnitude very often, but we regularly deal with all sorts of bills that relate to different programs in health. I hope to be able to advance the provisions that we lost with other bills.”
Baldwin linked the loss of LGBT provisions to the special election in Massachusetts that swept Republican Scott Brown into the late senator Ted Kennedy’s seat. The loss of the Senate supermajority forced the House to take up the Senate-passed bill, which did not contain concrete language regarding gay and lesbian health.
“Elections matter,” Baldwin said. “Elections have consequences. Now we find ourselves with the House adopting the Senate-passed bill.”
The only provision in the current legislation of special interest to LGBT people deals with costs accrued by AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The measure prevents Medicare patients with HIV or AIDS who receive prescription medication assistance from being subject to other prescription drug costs.