Wondering what the federal government has done for the LGBT community lately? A good place to start getting answers is an 11-page-long report that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published last month, available at http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/lgbthealth_objectives_2012.html
The report goes over nine 2012 objectives. Those most relevant to LGBT aging issues include:
- Releasing a report that “identifies the gaps and oppportunities in its portfolio in light of the recommendations that the Institute of Medicine made in its 2011 report entitled, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.“
- Funding five pilot studies to reduce obesity in lesbian and bisexual women.
- With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, assessing the impact of new chronic disease prevention programs on LGBT populations;
- Conducting a comprehensive review of LGBT cultural competency training curricula and improving training for programs delivering integrated health services to LGBT clients; and
- Through a partnership between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Administration for Community Living, “release a training video to educate long-term care ombudsmen, surveyors, healthcare providers, and state and local government officials about LGBT older Americans, the impacts of the social stigma on this community, and the rights of consumers in nursing homes, hospice, and health care. The video will highlight best practices, identify resources to support LGBT older adults, and give instruction on what to do if one becomes aware of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, CMS will clarify its rules governing nursing home visitation rights, which are already in place and apply equally to those with same-sex domestic partners.”
The report also notes that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Administration on Aging has issued five grants focused on improving behavioral health services and on suicide prevention among older people. Two of theswe grants — to the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and the Montrose Counseling Center in Houston — specifically target LGBT seniors.