Washington, D.C. Equality California has sent a letter to members of the California congressional delegation urging them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ) without a replacement that provides better healthcare for the American people.
"The health and lives of millions of LGBT Americans are at stake," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. "No issue is of broader consequence to Equality California and its 800,000 members than ensuring that the Affordable Care Act is not repealed without a comprehensive replacement. We call on members of Congress to uphold the significant gains that have been made under the ACA, and to ensure that any action taken by Congress safeguards the coverage, benefits, and consumer and financial protections that so many Californians, including many in the LGBT community, currently rely on."
Repealing the ACA without a better replacement would threaten critical health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of LGBT Californians, their families, and more than 20 million people across the United States who have secured health insurance coverage for the first time.
While LGBT people face many of the same health conditions as the general public, they are profoundly impacted by discrimination, bullying, violence, rejection by families and communities, and lack of acceptance in employment and housing. A higher prevalence of chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS and certain kinds of cancers take a heavy toll on LGBT people and their families. Economic inequalities aggravate this cycle of discrimination the LGBT poverty rate is double that of the general population and 16 times higher for transgender people alone. Nearly 90 percent of the nearly 130,000 LGBT Californians who buy coverage through Covered California get federal financial assistance to pay for their insurance.
Equality California is urging lawmakers to maintain nine elements in any reform of the ACA:
Subsidies and regulated insurance premium increases to keep quality healthcare coverage affordable at all income levels
Continued expansion of Medicaid and Medi-Cal. Switching to a block grant system would profoundly undermine the nation's health safety net, reduce health care coverage and hurt quality of care
No change in policies related to pre-existing conditions
Non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
Covered, manageable costs for specialty drugs such as HIV treatment and prevention medications
No lifetime cap and no annual limit so chronic diseases are properly treated
Mandated coverage for children up to age 26
A prohibition on dropping people when they get sick
Covered preventative care for services such as contraception, HIV testing and recommended cancer screenings.
"Elected representatives should be focused on improving our health care system, rather than working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare and rein in Medicaid expansions" said Zbur. "Such proposals could jeopardize the health coverage for hundreds of thousands of LGBT Californians, cut billions in federal dollars for California, and lead to increase health costs for everyone."
Preserving federal funding for Planned Parenthood is a critical component of the Affordable Care Act because it provides healthcare to women and tens of thousands of LGBT people. Planned Parenthood offers transgender health services, lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and sexual healthcare information and education, and we call on you to defend current levels of federal funding for their critical services.
Equality California is asking Congress to uphold the significant gains that have been made under the Obama Administration, and to ensure that any action taken safeguards the coverage and benefits, as well as consumer and financial protections on which many Californians, including the LGBT community, currently rely.
Equality California is the nation's largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org