Alex Blaze

Universal health care is still an LGBT issue

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 19, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: health care reform, HIV/AIDS, issues, Jerome Mitchell, LGBT, LGBT homeless, Tammy Baldwin

I have barely posted anything about health care now that the "debate" (if you will) is in full-swing all over the country. It's partly because I figure that an issue that's being covered everywhere doesn't need any help from me now, but also because all the news has been so damn depressing on this front. The bill keeps on getting compromised, so much so that the bill that just came out of the Senate Finance Committee is just one big love letter to the insurance industry. So I'm just waiting to see what actually passes, if the CPC holds the caucus line, what happens to the bill in conference, and if Obama's technocratic claim to support "what works" actually means anything.

But it's still the big LGBT issue. Tammy Baldwin explains how:

I'd go a bit further and say that we have less access to health care and health services not just because we can't get married (although I'm sure that's a small part of the problem), but also because we're more likely to work crappier jobs because we can be discriminated against almost everywhere (and are discriminated against everywhere) and because we're more likely to be homeless. I don't really know what the bill would do for homeless people's health care options, considering that it functions on the basis of an individual mandate where people are required to get health coverage and then get tax credits later if they need some help (too bad single-payer was taken off the table by Clinton, Edwards, and Obama back in the primaries), but it would help people who are just getting paid less or working at a job that doesn't currently provide health coverage.

Here's a story that high-lights a special need for health care reform among LGBT people. Even if the person in this story isn't gay (it doesn't say), HIV is still 50 times more prevalent among gay and bi men and that's a pre-existing condition that can get your coverage rescinded even if you one day want an insurer to cover a cancer procedure:

Jerome Mitchell applied for health insurance with Fortis Insurance Co. in 2001 at the age of 17. Fortis issued him a policy after he stated that he had never been treated for an immune deficiency.

One year later, Mitchell tried to donate blood to the Red Cross, which informed Mitchell that he was HIV-positive. Mitchell's doctor confirmed this finding.

Fortis investigated Mitchell's medical history and rescinded his policy, stating that Mitchell had misrepresented his HIV-positive status.

Mitchell sued for breach of contract and bad faith and presented evidence that he would die of AIDS within four years without medical treatment.

This guy won his case (7 years later), but few people actually do. Maybe they should put that on HIV educational posters as a scare tactic: You might not think HIV is a big deal what with the drugs and all that are available now, but it'll make you pretty much uninsurable for the rest of your life!

Baldwin's right - we are less likely to have access to health care and we are less likely to have a positive outcome from the health care system. But the way this "debate" has turned, I don't know if they'll actually end up doing anything about that. Being forced to buy junk insurance with a high deductible that covers only the bare minimum, all for a tax credit that'll appear a year later, won't solve a queer kid who got kicked out of his parents' home inability to access to health care.

And, for the record, I don't blame the Know-Nothings showing up at town hall meetings for derailing this process (if it is in fact "derailed"). The idiocy we're seeing in Congress now is the same as it ever was - our government is bought and paid for by CIGNA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and all the other giant insurers and pharmaceutical firms out there who make up about 5% of the American economy. The town hall idiots are a minority of the people going to those meetings and only a minority of those meetings has a group of idiots show up.

There is no popular movement against health care reform, only a bunch of wealthy people who want the looting to continue and politicians who want to the donations to keep on flowing. Blaming the town hall idiots is, again, a divide-and-conquer strategy set to make us blame other poor people with no power instead of directing our attention to the ones actually turning the cranks. Because town hall idiots or no town hall idiots, if our government wasn't receiving $1.4 million a day from health insurance lobbyists, single payer would have passed months ago.

The crazy talk from Republicans, the lame excuses from "fiscal conservatives" who want to keep spending on health care high, and endless compromising by Democrats has nothing to do with a few dudes with "Obama=Hitler" signs and everything to do with keeping their cash cow.

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Health Care is a huge issue for Lesbians, from HPV vaccines for our children, to pap smears and mammography, early detection for cancer.

Since many Lesbians fall into the working poor-uninsured realm, and others with insurance would benefit hugely from a far more friendly madical outreach, yes, healthcare is a Lesbian issue, one that we have been fighting for over many years.

Eh, I expect a toothless bill that looks OK superficially for the Dems to claim some sort of victory, while in reality just being some mediocre upgrade for the average person filled with insufferable processing bureaucracy.

Let's look at Obama and the Democrats scorecard.

Strike one. "Fierce defender" of GLBT rights by Mr. “gawd’s in the mix” himself, defense of DOMA, inaction on DADT, Warren, pandering to christers, etc., etc., etc.

Strike two. The War. More civilian casualities and more dead GIs becasue of his megalomania.

Strike three. Rendition, kidnapping, torture, murder, FISA, concentration camps.

Strike four. TARP and giveaways to the looter rich are the expense of working people.

Strike five. Union busting directed against the UAW meant to break the AFL-CIO.

Strike six. Austerity measures and an outright refusal to help the states reeling under the worst crisis since 1929.

Strike seven. A disastrous environmental policy.

Strike eight. Caving into the demands of the triad of insurance companies, HMO's and Big Pharma after they bought both the Congress and Obama.

Did I leave anything out. Probably. This could be Bush's scorecard. It's pretty ugly.

On the other hand we got to listen to the prettiest lies about the war, health care, and the economy. And who can forget the munificence of that Easter egg roll on the WH lawn and those two medals. Gosh, do you suppose that Democrats are right about those things balance out the score?

People who voted for Obama and the Democrats or McCain and the Republicans blundered;... badly. People who urged their election misled... very badly.

I really appreciated Rep Baldwin's video. It was yesterday's You Gotta See This video too.

Since I am an aging Boomer paying $457 a month for skimpy single-person COBRA coverage (and not allowed to buy coverage for my uninsured partner), I am following the "reform" effort very closely. Reading the Baucus bill, I see it creates a so-called high risk pool to take care of uninsurabiles with pre-existing conditions -- BUT you can't get coverage from it until you have been left uninsured for 6 months. What a scam. The subsidy formulas are almost impossible to decipher -- quick, does anyone know offhand whether their Adjusted Gross Income from their 1040 form is 133, 200 or 400 percent of the federal poverty limit? As best as I can tell, I would still have to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000 out of pocket annually for coverage, co-pays and deductibles. Yes, I totally agree -- LGBT people should be scrutinizing the healthcare bills, if only to demand that their spouses and kids get the same access as het households. What is our beloved HRC doing about healthcare? Will the March on Washington pay any attention to this issue at all? After all, this will probably be Obama's make-or-break issue for getting a second term.