Despite the significant progress in recent years, the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans is still under attack. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate is lower than ever before and LGBTQ Americans have seen even greater gains in accessing the health care they need. We still have a long way to go to address the many health disparities that impact the LGBTQ community -- like higher rates of cancer, HIV and AIDS, heart disease, tobacco use, and substance use disorders -- but access to insurance under the Affordable Care Act was a critical first step. The Affordable Care Act removed barriers to care for many, including women, transgender people, LGBTQ elders, and people living with chronic diseases like HIV and AIDS.
Yet instead of building on this progress, members of Congress and the Trump administration are leading the efforts to take away health care from millions. The nonpartisan analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found that under the proposed American Health Care Act, more than 23 million Americans would be left without health insurance by 2026. Premiums would increase by 20 percent by 2018, and many Americans -- including LGBTQ people -- would lose access to coverage because of so-called preexisting conditions. The bill's proposed cuts to Medicaid and tax credits would harm the most vulnerable among us, while cutting taxes for the wealthy, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Earlier this month, the AHCA was rammed through the U.S. House of Representatives -- with support from Colorado's own Reps. Tipton, Buck, and Lamborn -- before members of Congress bothered to understand how the bill would impact the country, let alone the 600,000 Coloradans who stand to lose their health care. It will not reduce costs, improve choice, or stabilize the insurance market.
According to One Colorado's recent report Transparent: The State of Transgender Health in Colorado, transgender Coloradans report higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders compared to the general population, and at least 10 percent have attempted suicide. Under the AHCA, being transgender could be considered a preexisting condition and transgender people are at risk of being denied insurance coverage simply because of who they are. Just last week, we saw a drastic incident that demonstrates the importance of allowing all Coloradans -- especially LGBTQ people -- to get the care they need, without unnecessary barriers.
For people living with chronic conditions, like HIV and AIDS, the AHCA could put people at risk of being denied care or denied certain lifesaving medications. The AHCA could roll back the progress made to expand access to HIV care and treatment, leaving people with HIV vulnerable to illness, worsening health, loss of life, or an AIDS diagnosis. Additionally, this plan includes cutting billions of dollars from programs that low- and middle-income families rely on -- particularly, dramatic Medicaid cuts of $834 billion over the next decade. One Colorado's needs assessment survey, conducted last summer with more than 3,600 LGBTQ respondents, found that at least 22 percent of transgender people and 12 percent of LGBTQ people overall were on public insurance. LGBTQ Coloradans cannot afford these significant cuts to our Medicaid program, both because of the enormous pressure that will be put on our state budget and the emotional and financial toll on vulnerable communities.
These changes would impact millions of LGBTQ people across the country. Recent estimates from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that nearly 1 million LGBTQ adults would become uninsured thanks to the AHCA.
Under the latest plan, many more could lose coverage because of preexisting medical conditions, like HIV and AIDS, or simply for being transgender. On top of that, the AHCA would defund Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of affirming health care for LGBTQ people nationwide.
Overall, the AHCA would have disastrous consequences for the LGBTQ community, for Colorado, and for the country. We call on Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner to reject Trumpcare or any other legislation that would raise premiums, gut Medicaid, roll back consumer protections, or strip millions of people of their health coverage. All Americans -- including LGBTQ Coloradans -- should have the opportunity to live healthy lives and get the adequate and affordable health care and coverage they need. LGBTQ people's livelihoods depend on it.
DANIEL RAMOS is the executive director of One Colorado, the state's LGBT advocacy organization.
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