Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado has introduced a bill that would assist the ever-growing ranks of LGBT elders.
The LGBT Elder Americans Act filed Tuesday was first introduced in 2012.
The bill follows Monday's White House Conference on Aging, and announcement by Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro that LGBT seniors will be protected from discrimination in public housing.
The guidance issued by HUD states that administrators of all HUD-assisted housing cannot base decisions on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
"As baby boomers continue to age, it's important that we understand the unique needs of this diverse generation," Bennet said in an emailed statement to the Washington Blade. "For LGBT seniors, questions about health care and financial issues can be particularly difficult without a trustworthy advocate to help guide them through these challenging decisions. And now, with full marriage equality thankfully the law of the land, many older LGBT couples have additional planning decisions to make. This bill will help aging service organizations assist older LGBT adults and their caregivers. Above all, it will provide LGBT seniors and their families the peace of mind that their best interests are being considered."
The bill would make numerous accommodations available for LGBT elders according to a fact sheet emailed to reporters. They include:
- Include LGBT older adults as a population with "greatest social need." This categorization targets services and programs to those facing barriers caused by non-economic factors, including cultural, social, or geographical isolation that restrict the ability of an individual to perform normal, daily tasks or threaten the capacity of the individual to live independently.
- Permanently establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT adults. Permanently establishing the Center ensures that it will continue to be able to provide critical information and tools to aging service providers, LGBT organizations and LGBT older adults.
- Require the Assistant Secretary for Aging to report on the number of LGBT individuals reached through activities carried out under the act and the effectiveness of those activities in reaching LGBT older adults. Require the Assistant Secretary to conduct studies and oversee data collection on the service needs of LGBT older adults. And require data collection and analysis on the effectiveness of the State and AAAs in targeting services at LGBT older adults.
- Encourage State and AAAs to enter into new cooperative arrangements with organizations that serve LGBT individuals.
- Prioritize research and development grants for organizations working to improve the health, long-term care, and access to culturally responsive services for older individuals with greatest social need.
- Require long-term care ombudsmen to collect and analyze data relating to discrimination against LGBT older adults in long-term care settings. And require the Director of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs' annual report to include the effectiveness of long term care ombudsman services in meeting the needs of LGBT individuals.
The number of LGBT seniors is expected to grow to 30 million by 2030.