Legislation to Watch in 2020
The 116th Congress is back in session, and there are a number of bills currently under consideration in the House and Senate that could impact the health, well-being, and civil rights of LGBTQ+ Americans. Below is a brief list of pertinent legislation – for a complete list visit Congress.gov!
- The Equality Act (S.788/H.R.5): This bill seeks to explicitly add sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list of classes protected from discrimination and segregation in the U.S. The bill passed the House in May 2019 and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it has been sitting ever since. If passed, the bill could undermine efforts by the Trump Administration to facilitate discrimination in the provision of federally-funded services – including HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services – through a series of rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- Every Child Deserves a Family Act (S.1791/H.R.3114): This bill prohibits child welfare service providers that receive federal funding from discriminating against children and families based religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. This bill would prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and couples seeking to adopt, and LGBTQ+ youth receiving foster care services. Like the Equality Act, this bill challenges Trump Administration efforts to enable discrimination in the provision of HHS-funded programs and services.
- Gender Equity in Education Act of 2019 (S.1964/H.R.3513): This bill expands Title IX protections to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (among other protected classes) in federally-funded education programs and activities. Companion bills have been introduced in the House and Senate, but have not yet been referred to committee.
- Condemning Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry and Discrimination in HUD (H.Res.613): Introduced in October by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), this House resolution condemns bigoted comments by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, and discriminatory practices within HUD under Carson’s direction.
Health and Safety
- LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act (S.1980/H.R.3509): Companion bills introduced in the House and Senate call for the use of uniform questions pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity in federal surveys. Collection of this information will enable federal agencies, researchers, and the general public to gain a more complete picture of disparities in employment, and health and housing status among LGBTQ+ individuals. A related House bill, the LGBTQ Essential Data Act (H.R.3280) calls on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on gender identity and sexual orientation in its National Violent Death Reporting System.
- Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act (S.1073/H.R.2775): Legislation introduced in the House and Senate seeks to amend the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to explicitly account for the protection of LGBTQ+ youth who are at risk for or have suffered abuse or neglect.
- Recognizing LGBTQ+ Suicide as a Public Health Problem (H.Res.587): Introduced in September of last year by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) this bill, recognizing LGBTQ+ suicide as a public health problem and designating September as National Suicide Prevention Month is currently under consideration by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
- Supporting the Goals and Ideals of GLSEN’s National Day of Silence (H.Con.Res.34): This bill calls on President Trump to issue a proclamation urging the observation of a National Day of Silence in the U.S. The National Day of Silence is an initiative of the LGBTQ+ education non-profit GLSEN that is intended to raise awareness of anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and bullying in the nation’s school system. The 2020 Day of Silence will be held on April 24th.
- Commitment to Elevate the Voices and Needs of Sexual Assault Survivors from Underrepresented and Disproportionately Affected Communities (S.Res.281/H.Res.514): A bicameral resolution introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), this bill calls on Congress to commit to protecting groups – including the LGBTQ+ community, communities of color, individuals with disabilities, immigrants, and incarcerated individuals – who are disproportionately exposed to sexual violence while simultaneously being less likely to have access to legal and mental and emotional support resources.
Is there a bill we missed? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACTION: Learn about 2020 Legislation in YOUR State!
Florida Lawmakers Introduce 8 Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in 2020 Legislative Session
Republican lawmakers in Florida have introduced a total of eight bills that seek to undermine and abolish the rights of LGBTQ+ Floridians, creating what Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Mauer calls “the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida legislature in recent memory.” The bills include legislation making it a felony offense for health care practitioners to provide medical care supporting the transition of a transgender minor, and legislation rolling back efforts to protect LGBTQ+ youth by banning conversion therapy.
Read more via Equality Florida.
DOJ Prepares to File Price Fixing Charges Against Generic Drug Companies
The U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing to file criminal charges against generic drug manufacturers for fixing the prices of off-patent medications. The accusations stem from an investigation that began in 2013, and come just as the five-year statute of limitations to file charges is about to run out. The companies are also facing litigation from the attorneys general in 46 different states.
Read more via the Wall Street Journal.
UPDATE: Public Comment Period for Trump Drug Importation Plan Closes March 9
Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that will enable states, wholesalers, and pharmacies to import certain drugs from Canada, and possibly other foreign countries. The goal of this new rule is to reduce prescription drug prices in the U.S. by fostering increased competition. However, the rule is opposed by pharmacy organizations and public health experts, who say the impact on drug costs will be minimal (the Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan will lower drug prices just 1% over the course of a decade), while the increased risk of counterfeit medications hitting shelves through importation is significant. The rule has also received pushback from Canadian officials, who fear the plan will diminish the supply of drugs available for purchase in Canada. The rule will not be finalized until the conclusion of a 75-day public comment period. The comment period closes March 9, 2020.
Read more via Forbes.
Read more via the American Pharmacists Association.
ACTION: Submit a comment today!
Federal Court Blocks Trump Administration Effort to Discharge U.S. Airmen Living With HIV
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that blocked efforts by the Trump Administration to discharge two active duty members of the U.S. Air Force because they were living with HIV. The ruling also prevents any future efforts to discharge Airmen based on their HIV status. The opinion issued by the court stated: “Any understanding of HIV that could justify this ban is outmoded and at odds with current science.”
Read more via POZ.
Read a first-hand account by one of the Airmen in Advocate.
New Medical Textbook Seeks to Increase Education on LGBTQ+ Health Topics
A new medical textbook called The Equal Curriculum, seeks to boost the knowledge and competency of medical students and providers in meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ patients. A lack of time spent covering LGBTQ+ health topics in medical school (a recent Stanford study found students spent an average of just five hours discussing LGBTQ+ health in four years of medical school) likely contributes to documented health disparities among LGBTQ+ individuals. The Equal Curriculum is a first step towards addressing those disparities through systematic change.
Read more via the Capital Times.
Join the National Coalition for LGBT Health at SYNChronicity (SYNC) 2020, May 10-12, 2020
SYNChronicity (SYNC) 2020 brings together medical professionals, service providers, government officials, and health advocates to sync effective approaches to address HIV, HCV, STI, and LGBTQ+ health in the changing and dynamic health care landscape, with a focus on underserved racial/ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ communities. The conference is organized by HealthHIV, HealthHCV, and the National Coalition for LGBT Health with the guidance of a diverse planning committee.
This year’s LGBTQ+ Health track will contain four dynamic sessions focused on improving health care access for LGBTQ+ communities, using data to advance quality care and identify gaps in care, advocating for smoking cessation practices and programs to reduce smoking rates, and advancing sexual health and other allied health programming to promote health equity. Additionally, SYNC 2020 will offer a Transgender Health Institute providing learning and engagement opportunities to promote integration of transgender health in practice. Plus, there for will be a poster hall and vendor exhibits.
The conference is an opportunity to connect with your colleagues and peers to discuss LGBTQ+ health advocacy, education, and health services research! You can register now to attend the conference May 10-12, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC.
ACTION: Register today!