Two Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Senate are jointly calling on the Biden administration to increase protections and treatment consistent with his campaign promise to protect LGBTQ elders.
Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), in a letter dated June 30 to the Department of Health & Human Services and obtained exclusively by the Washington Blade, seek increased standards and data collection in health care for LGBTQ elders.
“At this time, there are well over one million LGBT persons 65 and older in the United States,” the letter says. “With a growing aging population, there is greater urgency to address the palliative and end-of-life care needs among this population. LGBT persons have unique health needs and have experienced disparate health care due to discrimination based on their sexual minority status and associated fear of disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender identity to health care providers.”
The letter, addressed to Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, urges them to support LGBTQ older Americans receiving palliative and hospice care, reduce abuse of LGBT patients, and encourage respectful and competent treatment by improving data collection and issuing guidance for providers.
Baldwin, the first out lesbian elected to the U.S. Senate, and Bennett also specifically cite the need for “guidance for hospitals, long-term-care facilities, and agencies in the provision of palliative and hospice care for LGBT older adults.”
As the letter points out, the Trump administration sought to eliminate data collection for LGBTQ people in federal surveys, including questions enabling responders to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in the National Survey of Older American Act Participants, or NSOAPP.
Biden, citing the generation that broke barriers by coming out and fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic now becoming LGBTQ seniors, campaigned in 2020 on taking steps to protect LGBTQ elders. His LGBTQ plan states he would support LGBTQ seniors, acknowledging they “often face discrimination in all aspects of their lives, from employment to housing to health care.”
The Washington Blade has placed a request in with HHS and CMS seeking comment on the letter.