National Coalition for LGBT Health Advocacy Brief – April 21, 2020

COVID-19 Nondiscrimination Letter Sent to the Hill

The National Coalition for LGBT Health signed a letter, along with 200+ national, state, and local organizations, sent to Congressional leaders asking them to ensure the protection of vulnerable communities in any COVID-19 response legislation.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, communities of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community are among those who will be disproportionately affected by the virus. Barricading access to governmental programs, services, and benefits through means of discrimination on the basis of arbitrary factors, including age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, national origin, immigration status, or religion will further exacerbate health and economic inequities.

This letter ask Congress to include specific language that prohibits the discrimination in all programs, services, and benefits funded by COVID-19 response legislation.Click to Read Letter Click to Sign On

LGBTQ+ Organizations Ask Congress for COVID Relief Funding

Last month, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aide, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This extensive $2.2 trillion dollar stimulus package provides support to various factions of society, including the modification of key relief programs to include nonprofit eligibility. However, barriers to accessing and implementing these programs have arisen with federal agencies and private entities attempting to undermine Congressional intent to provide economic relief to nonprofit organizations.

Fortunately, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, released a sign-on letter, with the support of over 160+ LGBT organizations, addressed to congressional leaders regarding this predicament. The letter emphasizes the importances of the services nonprofits produce and the grand scale populations these organizations affect. Additionally, there is a list of clarifications and provisions CenterLink urges Congress to include. Below are some of the provisions included in the letter.

Clarifications and Provisions:

  • Expand Nonprofit Access to Credit by designating funding exclusively for nonprofits within the principal loan programs established in the CARES Act, or under future relief efforts, to ensure that the organizations dedicated to addressing immediate pandemic-related problems are included in relief efforts and not excluded or pushed to the back of the line
  • Allocate at least $250 billion in additional funding for the PPL Program
  • Provide incentives to private lenders to prioritize processing of applications of small nonprofits and expand the eligibility for nonprofits to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program by removing the current 500-employee cap

Click to Read Entire Letter Click to Read Article by Advocate

2 Trillion Dollar Stimulus Package – CARES

On March 27th, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) into law. This 2 trillion dollar stimulus package addresses the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will provide assistance to seven main groups: individuals, big corporations, small businesses, state and local governments, public health, education, and the federal safety net. Here are some highlights of how the CARES Act will affect the LGBTQ+ community.

Individual: 

  • Individuals earning less than $75,000 or $150,000 combined income a year are eligible for a one-time $1,200 or $2,400 check, respectively. Additional $500 per child under the age of 18  
  • $260 billion to cover those filing for unemployment

Small Business: 

  • Can apply for grants up to $10,000 to cover immediate operating cost
  • $300 billion allocated to the Small Business Administration to provide loans up to $10 million per business 

LGBTQ+ Specific Implications: 

  • $275 million to expand health services, including the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program 
  • $65 million allocated to “Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS”
  • Eligible Medicare part D individuals may obtain up to a 90-day supply of a covered part D drug in a single fill or refill 
  • $25 million allocated to runaway and homeless youth programs
  • Provides $4 billion for HUD to respond to COVID-19, addressing the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness
  • $400 million in assistance to states to expand voting and registration

Click to Read More

Senator’s Letter to HHS

On March 18th, Senators Schumer, Menendez, Baldwin, Van Hollen, Harris, Klobuchar, Coons, Duckworth, Warren, Peters, and Blumenthal submitted a letter to Alec Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Senators expressed increased concern for Americans living with HIV during this COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the Senators emphasized the reduction of protections against health care discrimination creates additional risk for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The LGBTQ+ community has been disproportionately impacted by HIV, and in an emergent time like this one, social distancing may not be enough to protect high risk populations. Click to Read the Letter 

Rationing of Ventilators

The novel COVID-19 pandemic has impacted communities across the United States. As cases are increasing, medical professionals are beginning to worry about the availability of acute care services and equipment, specifically ventilators. As a result, many have begun to proceed with rationing protocols that provide guidelines to who will have access to life-saving treatment.

Unfortunately, many states have protocols that illegally discriminate against individuals living with disabilities. For example, Alabama’s triage guidelines determine those with a profound intellectual disability are unlikely to be a candidate for live-saving treatment.

Following lawyers filing complaints against these discriminatory protocols, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights and Action released a bulletin “Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” This bulletin addresses the public health emergency in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasizes entities obligation to comply with laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and/or sex. Click to Read More

CDC Guidelines for COVID-19 

The Coalition advises you to adhere to the guidelines recommended by the CDC to best protect yourself against COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 
  • Put distance between yourself and others, avoid close contact with those who are sick 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth when outside the home 
  • Cover a cough and sneezes 
  • Clean and disinfect as much as possible

Click for CDC Recommendations

HHS – Nonenforcement of Anti-Discrimination Provisions

In November of 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  issued a Notice of Nonenforcement of anti-discrimination laws without providing the public any notice or opportunity to comment.

The anti-discrimination provisions are stated in “The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards” and were in regard to the governing of HHS grants. HHS refused to uphold the anti-discrimination provisions, claiming noncompliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a comprehensive legislative bill aimed to ensure social equity while protecting small businesses. When HHS issued the Notice of Nonenforcement without notice to the public or time to comment they directly undermined legal precedent. Additionally, nonenforcement will minimize anti-discrimination efforts, having harmful implications for the LGBTQ+ community.

Implications:

  • Federally funded foster care agencies refusing to place children with families because of a host family’s sexual orientation or gender identity, limiting the number of potential homes for kids who need them
  • Child welfare agencies and homelessness service providers engaging in abusive and discriminatory practices, including verbal and physical abuse, conversion therapy, and forced services that invalidate one’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Adult daycare providers denying services to transgender individuals

Families United, True Colors Fund, and SAGE along with Democracy Forward and Lambda Legal are suing HHS for unlawfully abandoning anti-discrimination protections.Click to Read More

2020 Census Vital to LGBTQ+ Community

Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count everyone in the United States. The results of the census determine the allocation of resources, amount of representation, and other demographic predictions. This year is the First Year the census will give people the option to identify a household relationship as same-sex. Response from the LGBTQ+ community, a historically undercounted community, will provide data to inform advocates, policymakers, and researchers working on LGBTQ+ issues.

This year the census is easier to complete than ever! You can complete the census online, by phone, or through the mail. The last day to complete the census is August 14, but complete it as soon as possible. Remember, 10 minutes will determine the next 10 years!Click to Fill Out the Census

Register to Vote

This formate of Awareness Week’s logo encourages the community to vote for LGBT health. According to a recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Williams Institute, 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ adults are not registered to vote. Ensure that your voice is heard by registering to vote today. Click to Read More on the Study Click to Register to Vote

Are you a person with an LGBT or related identity who has ever served in the US Armed Forces?

The Health for Every Veteran Study Team is seeking veterans with an LGBT or related identity to participate in a study focusing on their health behaviors and life experiences.

The goal of the Health for Every Veteran Study is to better understand the experiences of veterans from all backgrounds and promote their health and well-being, including those with LGBT or related identities. The study team is especially interested in hearing the diverse voices within their communities.

The study is being conducted by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. It consists of completing a confidential, web-based questionnaire every 9 months for approximately 2 years (for a total of 4 questionnaires). All research activities are completed online, with no in-person visits required.

You served. Your voice matters.Click for More Information

Telehealth Expansion

HealthHIV announces the launch of TeleHealthHIV, a professional services program to increase access to and engagement in HIV care by helping organizations and providers implement telehealth programs. TeleHealthHIV provides education, training and capacity building assistance (CBA) to health departments, non-profits, AIDS service organizations, community based organizations and health organizations to develop, implement, or expand HIV prevention and care telehealth services.

As part of its telehealth activity over the past several years, HealthHIV leads a national pilot telehealth project in HIV prevention and care. TeleHealthHIV syncs HealthHIV’s online CBA, education and e-training programs and its HIV telehealth program experience to create this new, important professional services program.

How are you using telehealth to connect to patients or clients?Click for More Information

Webinar Coming Soon: Clinical Considerations for Managing HIV during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The National Coalition for LGBT Health will be hosting a webinar covering “Clinical Considerations for Managing HIV during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” During these unprecedented times, we are faced with challenges which raise levels of uncertainty and limit our access to each other. This webinar will be designed to explore the unexpected challenges those with HIV might face and possible solutions to those challenges. Details regarding the timing and topics discussed will be released soon. 

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