In what appears to be a glimmer of hope in America’s current political climate, New York City has made a progressive and revolutionary step toward improving quality health care by establishing the LBGTQ Health Care Bill of Rights. The Advocate spoke with Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, NYC’s gay deputy commissioner of disease control, for more insight on the Big Apple’s new inclusive health care measure, how it benefits New Yorkers, and whether or not this can be a stepping stone for other cities to follow suit.
Does this measure recognize legal rights in New York City? Yes. The LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights includes rights and protections [allowing] anyone seeking health care in New York City, including LGBTQ people, to get the health care they need and deserve. Health care providers and their staff cannot legally provide LGBTQ patients with a lower quality of care because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Why was this necessary and what do you hope it changes? LGBTQ people are often silenced or stigmatized by the health care system. The LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights is designed to improve the quality and comprehensiveness of health care for LGBTQ people in New York City, and to systematically shift providers’ knowledge and behaviors related to LGBTQ health. It directs patients to contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights if they believe they have been mistreated or denied care because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in any health care setting.
Could this be a model for other cities? We hope so. Clear statements of protections can empower people to seek care [and to] discuss their health and health care needs without the fear of judgment or discrimination.
Do you feel this was even more necessary with the current move to repeal the Affordable Care Act? It is unclear whether existing antidiscrimination protections under the ACA will remain intact given recent actions at the federal level. Regardless, the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights is just one example of New York City’s commitment to ensuring health equality for LGBTQ New Yorkers. Knowledge is power, and New York City will continue to be a beacon of enlightened, culturally responsive health care for LGBTQ people.
Read the full Bill of Rights at http://On.NYC.gov/2vcIteF