If you are an advocate who wants to protect same-sex partners from being ousted from their homes and losing income they need to live on when their partner needs Medicaid help to pay for nursing home care, the Williams Institute has issued a must-have guide: “Extending Medicaid Long-Term Care Impoverishment Protections to Same-Sex Couples,” available at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/marriage-and-couples-rights/medicaid-reports-june-2012/
The U.S. Supreme Court has just decided to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” a move that is extremely helpful for LGBT people. Some of the most important provisions related to LGBT people:
- Pre-existing conditions will no longer be a barrier to getting health care insurance, a provision that is especially important to transgender people, who are sometimes excluded from coverage because “gender identity disorder” is ruled a pre-existing condition;
- Making private insurance policies available to small employers and individuals who make between $15,000 and $43,000 per year;
- Non-discrimination provisions covering sexual orientation and gender identity;
- The collection of data to better understand LGBT health disparities, which sets necessary groundwork for future programs to improve LGBT persons’ health;
- Improved coverage of preventive care for Medicare beneficiaries; and
- Much more.
Here are two more places to consult to find out more about LGBT people’s health and the Affordable Care Act at:
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers and the Movement Advancement Project recently issued the “2012 Community Center Survey Report: Assessing the Capacity and Programs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers,” available at http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/2012-lgbt-community-center-survey-report.pdf
The report contains interesting data on how 79 (of more than 200) LGBT community centers across the U.S. are serving older adults. Here’s a summary of that data:
- 73% of centers offer programs specifically designed for LGBT older adults
- 57% offer recreational, social and cultural activities
- 56% offer discussion and support groups
- 48% offer volunteer opportunities
- 29% offer exercise and fitness programs
- 25% offer intergenerational programming
- 24% offer peer-led support groups for LGBT older adults
- 10% offer congregate meals
- Five centers (10%) said that more than one-quarter of their patrons are 65+
Many people are providing care to elder relatives, perhaps in addition to caring for children. The right of LGBT caregivers to access federal benefits can be murky, given that we are often barred by law from establishing legal ties to some of our dependents.
If this is your case, you may be interested in a public webinar being held on the Family and Medical Leave Act on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. EST. The Department of Labor will be the host. Register at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/employeeguide.htm
Reuters has published an checklist for LGBT Americans planning retirement which includes a couple juicy statistics.
The article, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/us-column-miller-lgbtretirement-idUSBRE85K12N20120621, urges LGBT adults to:
- Check your 401(k) beneficiaries, as starting in 2010, you’re allowed to list non-spouse beneficiaries;
- Check your pension survivor benefits; 73% of corporations now offer a survivor option for domestic partners;
- Check your retiree health insurance; if you’re one of the lucky ones whose corporation will pick up your post-retirement health insurance bill, there’s a 44% chance they will extend that coverage to your domestic partner;
- Think about estate taxes; starting in 2013, if your same-sex spouse will inherit more than $1 million from you (or vice versa), the federal estate tax will take 55% of it. Alternatives include a life insurance policy and annual tax-free gifts up to $13,000; and
- Consider lobbying your state to have it implement spousal impoverishment rules that will protect the spouses/partners of LGBT people whose nursing home bills are paid by Medicaid. (See previous posting for a webinar on this legislative issue.)
On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, from 11:00 a.m. to noon Pacific time, the Williams Institute is hosting a webinar on Medicaid spousal impoverishment and same-sex couples.
Medicaid pays most people’s nursing home bills, but one has to have nearly no assets to qualify. For couples, that used to mean BOTH people had to become “impoverished.” Congress fixed this problem many years ago for heterosexually married couples, allowing the well spouse to keep their home and some income while still paying for the care the nursing home resident used. The Obama Administration recently sent all states an advisory memo saying states are empowered to also protect same-sex couples, but states have to implement this choice. The Williams Institute webinar “is designed to provide policy guidance to state policymakers and advocates interested in implementing these protections in their respective states.” Scheduled speakers include:
- Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE
- Christy Mallory, Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law & Policy, the Williams Institute
- Jennifer C. Pizer, Legal Director and Arnold D. Kassoy Senior Scholar of Law, the Williams Institute
- Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director, SAGE Metro St. Louis
RSVP for the webinar at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/events/upcoming-events/medicaid-webinar-062712/
On June 23, 2012, the Elder Project at KICK and the LGBT Older Adults Coalition are co-hosting the 2012 LGBT Older Adult Summit, which takes place from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the MSU Detroit Center, 3408 Woodward Avenue. Although the conference is free, pre-registration is required at http://www.LGBTOlderadults.com
The Summit follows up on two 2011 LGBT aging summits, one attracting primarily white suburban LGBT elders and the other addressing a predominately African-American audience. For an article summarizing those two summits, see http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=54142
“In keeping with [the] Tides’ [Foundation] mandate to evolve product and service innovation across the sector, and based on our seminal Momentum Leadership Conference series, Momentum is a quarterly publication that spotlights the world’s leading and emerging social changemakers. Covering issues ranging from the environment, to education, health, and social and racial equity, Momentum seeks to educate, inspire, and motivate activists and organizations to action.”
The newest edition of Momentum (June 2012) is devoted to “LGBT in America” and includes an article by SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams on “The LGBT Aging Experience.” For old hands at LGBT aging issues, the article doesn’t contain much new data, but the pictures are gorgeous, and you may want to cite the article in your next proposal. It’s available at http://momentum.tides.org/
The University of Washington School of Medicine is looking for participants in a study of LGBT individuals who had a partner who was very sick or injured in the last 5 years and stayed in a hospital or health care facility.
The study will involve a by-phone or in-person interview and a questionnaire and will focus on your experiences making decisions about your partner’s care. Participants will receive $15 for their time. If you are interested, contact the researcerhs at 877-749-3970, by email at info [at] caringforpartners [dot] org, or visit their website at www.caringforpartners.org.
George Stewart, a volunteer with SAGE Harlem, has won one of six coveted spots in a White House LGBT Pride Mionth Champions of Change Video Challenge, and your vote can help him win!
The campaign aims to “feature stories of unsung heroes and local leaders who are making an impact in their communities.” You can vote until midnight, Monday, June 25, 2012 by going to http://www.whitehouse.gov//lgbtvideochallenge. Let’s make the White House know how important LGBT elder issues are to our community!