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HHS Secretary Sebelius statement observing LGBT Pride Month

Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

At the Department of Health and Human Services, we are committed to ensuring that members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community have access to quality, affordable health care and enjoy the same rights and protections that all Americans expect and deserve. This year, as we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, we take a moment to recognize the historic strides we have made in advancing the health and well-being of members of the LGBT community and all Americans through implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

For far too long, lack of access to affordable health care and preventive services has been a major obstacle to the well-being of LGBT people across the country.

Over the past year, this Administration launched an unprecedented public education and outreach effort to raise awareness among the uninsured about the new Health Insurance Marketplace. A key part of this effort involved working with LGBT community leaders to provide the tools, information and resources needed to assist LGBT individuals and families in obtaining affordable health insurance coverage through the Marketplaces.

During the first open enrollment period, which ended March 31, more than 8 million Americans, including LGBT people across the country, signed up for coverage through the Marketplace.

And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new rights and protections are now in place that will profoundly impact the lives of LGBT people throughout our nation.

Now, all Marketplace plans must cover preventive services like flu shots, blood pressure screenings and HIV screenings at no additional charge.

Prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, dollar caps on annual and lifetime coverage led to huge bills and crippling debt – or the inability to get care when it was most needed — for many individuals with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

Now, lifetime and annual dollar caps are a thing of the past and no one can be denied coverage based on their health history.

Before the Affordable Care Act, there was nothing to stop insurance companies from denying coverage based on who you love or discriminating against you because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Now it is illegal for insurance companies that offer coverage to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and legally married couples are treated equally when it comes to coverage and financial assistance.

This June, we celebrate these accomplishments and look forward to the important work ahead, such as closing the LGBT health disparities gap; stopping the bullying of LGBT youth; and ensuring that all LGBT Americans, families, and communities can access quality health services.

During LGBT Pride Month, and beyond, I hope you will join me as we renew our commitment to building a bright and healthy future for LGBT people in communities across our nation.