During what could be his final year in office, President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new plans to improve the health and well-being of homosexuals by introducing a variety of initiatives to such as providing “cultural competency” training to health care workers and developing definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity.
CNSNews.com is reporting that in a statement appearing on the HHS web site the Department promises “to encourage new and existing health profession training programs, including behavioral health (e.g., mental health, substance abuse, and HIV) programs, to include LGBT cultural competency curricula.”
The statement goes on to explain that “the lack of culturally competent providers is a significant barrier to quality health care for many LGBT people, particularly those who identify as transgender. HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration will also convene professional groups that represent LGBT health providers and students to identify challenges and opportunities for training LGBT providers and to isolate strategies geared toward increasing culturally competent care for LGBT patients”
Other actions it intends to take on behalf of the LGBT community include the formation of an internal LGBT Coordinating Committee, the inclusion of LGBT people in implementing the Affordable Care Act and ongoing anti-bullying efforts.
The Department’s “Future Recommended Actions” include developing a Web site designed to help homosexuals find insurance policies that cover “domestic partners.”
The HHS will also conduct outreach efforts to organizations that serve LGBT communities to connect homosexuals with “available funding opportunities.”
They will also increase the amount of data they collect on LGBT individuals, collaborating with other agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in “an effort to develop and test questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Protection under federal law is another item in the plan, which states that HHS will “advise” states and tribes that “LGBT couples” can be treated similarly to “non-LGBT couples” for health services and other benefits such as child care and “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.”
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