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HHS Awards $248K Grant for LGBT Health

HHS Awards $248K Grant for LGBT Health


The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a six-figure grant to a leading LGBT health institute based in Boston, the agency announced Wednesday.

The $248,000 grant to the Fenway Institute, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (a division of HHS), will fund creation of a national training and technical assistance center for LGBT health issues.

Health care challenges for LGBT people have been highlighted in several recent studies. Earlier this year, a report by the Institute of Medicine, commissioned by the National Institutes of Health, concluded that there is insufficient data on the LGBT population to adequately address its specific health concerns.

Another study, focused on health disparities in California, found in 2010 that unmarried gay and lesbian couples are substantially less likely to have access to dependent health insurance than married straight couples. "The exclusion of gay men and women from civil marriage and the failure of domestic partnership benefits to provide insurance parity contribute to unequal access to health coverage, with the probable result that more health spending is pushed onto these individuals and onto the public," study authors concluded.

In June, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that federal health surveys would begin to include sexual orientation in data collection by 2013 (gender identity measures will be added later).

Per the HRSA press release, Fenway will use the grant for the following purposes:

-recruit leading experts in LGBT health lead seminars and provide consultation to health center staff
-develop curricula specifically targeted to LGBT populations
-work closely with state primary care associations to maximize the geographic reach of the project.

"This award is an important step in HHS' continuing effort to provide health care services to all people recognizing that different groups of people may have distinctive health care needs," Secretary and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a Wednesday statement.

Also Wednesday, HHS released a guidance letter ensuring visitation rights for same-sex couples in hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid, based on an Obama administration memorandum released last year. Per the letter, hospitals are required to "provide notice to patients or their support persons (where appropriate) of their visitation rights, including the right to receive, subject to the patient's consent, visitors designated by the patient, including but not limited to a spouse, domestic partner (including a same- sex domestic partner), another family member, or a friend." (A PDF of the letter is available here.)

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