Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Expanding and Strengthening Medicaid Will Improve Health Care Access for Low-Income LGBT Americans
Press Release

RELEASE: Expanding and Strengthening Medicaid Will Improve Health Care Access for Low-Income LGBT Americans

Washington, D.C. — As Medicaid turns 51 this year, many opportunities lie ahead for this vital program to continue to reduce health disparities, including those affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, beneficiaries. In recognition of Medicaid’s role in providing health care services to millions of Americans, the Center for American Progress is offering recommendations for how to ensure that the program’s benefits are reaching everyone who needs them, including LGBT people and their families.

LGBT individuals and families face high rates of poverty, uninsurance, and other barriers that hinder access to vital health care services. The Affordable Care Act has made strides in addressing these barriers, particularly through the expansion of state Medicaid programs and the finalization of regulations clarifying that Section 1557 of the ACA protects LGBT Americans from discrimination in health insurance coverage and health care.

“This is an exciting time in the history of the Medicaid program—Medicaid expansion and nondiscrimination protections that include LGBT people and their families offer new opportunities to make sure that Medicaid’s benefits reach LGBT communities,” said Kellan Baker, CAP Senior Fellow and lead author of the brief. “In particular, it is critical for the federal government, states, and advocates to continue to work together to close the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid in all states and to affirm the availability of coverage for transgender Medicaid beneficiaries nationwide.”

Key recommendations include:

  • States should expand their Medicaid programs to all individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level in order to establish a level playing field for all states and to ensure that all low-income Americans, including LGBT individuals and their families, are able to access Medicaid coverage.
  • States should remove transgender exclusions from their Medicaid programs and institute protocols affirming that Medicaid coverage is available for transgender individuals.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should amend the Medicare and Medicaid Conditions of Participation for hospitals to explicitly require nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Services should amend the single, streamlined application for Medicaid and the health insurance marketplaces to incorporate an updated two-step gender question and a voluntary sexual orientation question.

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.