With the December 15 deadline for coverage starting in January 2016 fast approaching, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced partnerships with key national organizations to support LGBT outreach and enrollment efforts during 2016 Open Enrollment. As part of LGBT Week of Action from Dec. 7 – 11, Out2Enroll and other organizations will hold enrollment activities and provide in-person assistance across the country. Additionally, partners will leverage social media campaigns to ask their members and affiliates to sign up for an affordable health plan for 2016 through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
“This Administration has made historic progress for the LGBT community, ensuring that people cannot be denied health coverage because of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or pre-existing conditions,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “We are proud to continue that progress and work with our national partners to give more LGBT Americans and their families access to quality, affordable health coverage.”
Access to affordable health coverage and care is particularly important for LGBT people, who are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, to be uninsured, and to face substantial barriers to quality health care, including refusals of care, substandard care, inequitable policies and practices, and exclusion from health outreach and education efforts. During this week and beyond, HHS and the organizations listed below will work together both on the ground in target cities and on social media to raise awareness about the coverage options available to the LGBT community under the Affordable Care Act.
“Health is an LGBT equality issue—we all deserve to be healthy and to get the help we need to protect ourselves and our families,” said Kellan Baker, steering committee member at Out2Enroll. “Our community has seen historic changes this year, such as marriage equality and new nationwide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in health care. By taking advantage of the financial help that’s available and getting covered by December 15th, we can all make sure that we’re able to celebrate these advances for years to come.”
On a conference call today with the organizations’ leadership, Secretary Burwell thanked these groups for their work in helping LGBT Americans access quality, affordable health care. The Department today also released its 2015 Annual Report of the HHS LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee, Advancing LGBT Health and Well-being. This report puts forward HHS commitments for the coming fiscal year and celebrates the completed commitments from the 2014 Annual Report.
Overview of Partners and Activities
Out2Enroll is the nation’s leading organization working to connect LGBT people and their families with new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act. Launched in 2013, Out2Enroll works with HHS and partners across the country to promote enrollment and maintains a resource-rich website at Out2Enroll.org, where LGBT community members can find answers to their enrollment questions and get connected with free, LGBT-friendly enrollment assistance. During Open Enrollment, Out2Enroll will support in-person events across the country by participating in local LGBT Prides and town halls, providing LGBT-specific enrollment materials to partners, and hosting Administration surrogates. Out2Enroll will also continue to provide in-person and online training sessions on LGBT cultural competency and enrollment issues for assisters, including Navigators, Certified Application Counselors (CACs), and agents/brokers. More information about regularly scheduled and customized trainings can be found at Out2Enroll.org. Out2Enroll also regularly shares resources and digital materials targeted to LGBT consumers via its website, Twitter (@Out2Enroll ), and Facebook page .
Family Equality Council (FEC)
This is the third year that the Family Equality Council (FEC) is partnering with HHS for Open Enrollment. FEC will use social media to share information about deadlines, LGBT Week of Action, and other resources for Open Enrollment.
Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality (GLMA)
This is the third year that Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality (GLMA) is partnering with HHS for Open Enrollment. GLMA will send notifications to their membership promoting LBGT Week of Action and deadlines. They will also share resources from Marketplace.gov and Out2Enroll with membership, and be active on social media.
HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)
HIVMA created hivclinician.org as a central hub for providers around HIV and the Affordable Care Act. HIVMA updated its Open Enrollment resource and will continue to amplify key Open Enrollment dates through social media and emails to membership.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has worked with HHS for all three open enrollment periods. This year, HRC President Chad Griffin and Secretary Sylvia Burwell Mathews are co-authoring an OpEd for the LGBT community, emphasizing how the ACA has and continues to improve access to critical health care for LGBT Americans. HRC has included open enrollment information in member communications and is also using social media to highlight enrollment information and deadlines.
This Open Enrollment, Lambda Legal will use social media to highlight deadlines and LGBT Week of Action, and also will distribute enrollment information in their e-newsletter.
National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) has partnered with HHS during past Open Enrollment periods to inform the black LGBT community about opportunities for health care coverage. This year, NBJC will continue to use social media platforms to inform their national following about this year’s enrollment period deadline and updates. They will also host a health and wellness tour of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) for LGBT students on campuses in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Maryland and Washington, DC.
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
This is the third year the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is partnering with HHS for Open Enrollment. NCTE will use social media to highlight enrollment deadlines and LGBT Week of Action and will raise awareness online about enrollment deadlines for their membership and subscribers. NCTE has also released an open letter encouraging transgender people to enroll and advising on steps to ensure they can access the care they need.
The National Coalition for LGBT Health
This is the third year the National Coalition for LGBT Health is partnering with HHS for Open Enrollment. They will distribute enrollment materials at their regional PrEP educational events. The National Coalition also built a social media and web campaign and will host enrollment webinars to educate their members on engaging the LGBT community in enrollment activities.
National LGBTQ Task Force
This is the third year the National LGBTQ Task Force has partnered with HHS during Open Enrollment. The Task Force will offer space to HHS staff during their Creating Change annual conference to answer questions about enrollment and distribute materials to the nearly 4,000 conference attendees. The Task Force will also highlight enrollment information and deadlines through outreach to its members and via its network of affirming and welcoming faith communities.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
This is the third year that PFLAG National–the nation’s largest organization of families and allies united with people who are LGBTQ–has partnered with HHS. PFLAG National distributed enrollment information to their 400 chapter leaders at their national conference in October, and raised awareness around enrollment deadlines through extensive social media.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
SAGE has partnered with HHS for the past two Open Enrollments and this year has committed to distribute LGBT, elderly, and HIV+ enrollment materials to its members and affiliates.