19 posts categorized "Healthcare"

June 20, 2014

Policy Update: FMLA Benefits Extended to Same Sex Spouses

Family illness can cause tremendous stress for caretakers, both physically and emotionally. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 addresses this issue directly by entitling eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Millions of Americans have benefited from these provisions, but for many LGBT workers these benefits have historically been inaccessible as the government has not recognized their relationships. This challenge is exacerbated for older LGBT adults, who face striking health disparities: increased risk for certain cancers, a greater likelihood of delaying medical care, and higher rates of chronic mental and physical health conditions, including HIV/AIDS.

Given these historic challenges, today’s announcement by the U.S. Secretary of Labor marks a tremendous victory for LGBT older adults.

The announcement from Secretary Thomas E. Perez proposes a rule “extending the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act to all eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages regardless of where they live.”

This means that same sex spouses married in any state would have access to the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts—regardless of where they live. So a couple married in Massachusetts but living in a state which does not recognize their marriage would still be covered by the protections provided by the FMLA. 

According to today's statement from the Department of Labor:

Secretary Perez is proposing this rule in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, in which the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted “marriage” and “spouse” to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law.

The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between succeeding at work and being a loving family caregiver,” said Secretary Perez. “Under the proposed revisions, the FMLA will be applied to all families equally, enabling individuals in same-sex marriages to fully exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities to their families.

The extension of these benefits to same sex spouses will make a significant difference in the health and well-being of LGBT older adults across the United States—regardless of where they live.

To read the full text of the announcement, visit the Department of Labor’s web site online here

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

April 16, 2014

National Health Care Decisions Day

Nhddlogo

If you became unable to speak for yourself, how would medical decisions be made for you? We'll consider that question and others on April 16th, the 7th Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), a nationwide event promoting the importance of healthcare choices and advance directives. The LGBT community is especially vulnerable in this regard, since many hospitals restrict visitation rights to narrow interpretations of family. This day is a reminder for us all to take steps to ensure that we make our wishes clear about who may visit us and make medical decisions on our behalf in times of crisis.

  • If you don't have advance directives in place, learn how to obtain them here.
  • If you live in New York, please attend our NHDD event on April 29th. A volunteer legal team will be on hand to help navigate advance directive forms. Find out more information here.
  • For more information on the importance of advance directives and other legal documents, visit the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging's resource page.

Watch a video from NHDD explaining advance directives below.

NHDD Speak Up Video from NHDD on Vimeo.

March 28, 2014

National LGBT Health Awareness Week

Graph_stetAs National LGBT Health Awareness Week and NY LGBT Health Awareness Month comes to a close, we want our readers to know more about the health issues affecting our older adult population and how getting educated can help! Also, don't forget that open enrollment closes in just a few days! Get covered today! If you need assistance, be sure to check out SAGE's webpage on the Affordable Care Act for LGBT older adults.

While many LGBT older people engage in health behaviors that promote good health, research also shows that many LGBT older people engage disproportionately in behaviors that put them at risk, such as smoking, excessive drinking and non-prescribed drug use. In addition, many LGBT older adults delay care out of fear of discrimination from health providers, which means that illnesses go undetected until crisis hits. And more broadly, a general lack of data collection and research on LGBT elder health issues has left the field without the information they need to develop effective interventions that address LGBT older people's unique health realities. 

Did you know that:

  • According to a 2011 national study on LGBT older adults, high percentages of LGBT older people struggle with health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, arthritis, cataracts, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. Nineteen percent of LGBT elders reported having had at least one type of cancer. Read the full report. ▶
  • LGBT elders also deal disproportionately with mental health concerns, which is a primary risk factor for social isolation. According to a 2011 national health study, more than half of the respondents have been told by a doctor that they have depression; 39 percent have seriously thought of suicide; and 53 percent feel isolated from others.
  • Research shows that LGBT elders engage in health behaviors that both promote good health and put them at risk. According to The Aging and Health Report: "The majority of LGBT older adults in the project are sexually active and most engage in moderate exercise, wellness activities, and participate in health screenings. Yet, some report high-risk health behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking and non-prescribed drug use. Especially at high risk are those age 50 – 64. Their rates of smoking, excessive drinking, non-prescribed drug use, and HIV risk behaviors are significantly higher than those age 65 and older." Read our resources on diabetesfalls preventionheart disease and HIV/AIDS.
  • A lack of cultural competence regarding transgender people and their health needs, as well as bias and outright discrimination by providers, create serious barriers. These barriers, together with financial barriers, mean that many transgender older adults often avoid or delay seeking care. In addition, medically necessary care related to gender transition is often arbitrarily excluded from public and private insurance. Inability to access this care can contribute to declining health, and these exclusions are often also used to deny coverage for preventive and other medical care transgender older adults need. Read more on transgender health issues. ▶

 

March 25, 2014

National Diabetes Alert Day

Did you know today is National Diabetes Alert Day? 

Our LGBT older adult population is especially at risk for diabetes, as well as a host of health issues, as tudies have shown they are less likely to access mainstream health care service providers, have health insurance, and seek treatment or care, putting them at greater risk for poorer overall health and developing chronic, but manageable, conditions.

According to the American Diabetes Association, National Diabetes Alert Day is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

The Diabetes Risk Test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. Access your risk by taking the test now.

The good news is that if you are at risk for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, there are steps you can take to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Check out our fact sheet (available in English and Spanish), “Ten Things Every LGBT Older Adult Should Know About Diabetes,” for more information.

Also, there are 6 days left to go to sign up for health insurance under the open enrollment period! Need help? Visit SAGE's Health Insurance Action Center online now!

Diabetes       Espanol_DIABETES_page1
      Read Ten Things Every LGBT Older Adult Should Know About Diabetes      Leer Diez Cosas Que Todas Las Personas LGBT de Más Edad Deben Saber La Diabetes

 

March 12, 2014

Celebrating Women's History Month

IMG_1123SAGE's strong women's community has led to many women-centric programming throughout the organization. The arrival of Felicia Sobel, LCSW, as our Women's Programming Coordinator in 2011 solidified our committement to providing quality events and programs to reflect the breadth of interests of LBT women. Too often, aging is equated with decline and diminishing strengths. On the contrary, growing older means reaching a life stage where friendships deepen, values intensify, goals (old and new) crystallize, wisdom emerges and interests often flourish.

IMG_1692This month, in honor of Women's History Month, we are highlighting all of our women's programs and events. Feel free to stop by The SAGE Center or SAGE Harlem to take part in one of our many women's groups, or attend one of our upcoming dances or lectures!

Special Events:

SAGE & Henrietta Hudson St. Patrick's Tea Dance
March 16, 2014
3:00 - 9:00 pm at Henrietta Hudson, 438 Hudson Street, NYC
Celebrate and dance the day away at a special St. Paddy's Day Tea Dance at the legendary Henrietta Hudson! $10 at the door and all proceeds go to SAGE!

Celebrate Women's History Month with SAGE
March 21, 2014
7:00 - 8:30 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC
Hear published women writers read from their work and join us for a Q & A session.  This stimulating event will feature readings by novelist Kathleen Collins; author-publisher Jan Freeman; playwright Barbara Kahn; writer Jaye McNeil; and poet Chocolate Waters. Contributions appreciated, but not necessary and all are welcome!

The Best Women's Dance in NYC: Spring Edition
May 4, 2014
3:30 - 8:30 pm at Club LQ, 511 Lexington Ave, NYC
The Best Women's Dance in NYC is back in May after a successful winter dance in January! Celebrate with friends, old and new, and join us for our triannual tradition! $20 in advance/$25 at the door - get your tickets here!

Special Programs:

Ask the Docs For Women: Workshop on Women's Health
March 24, 2014
3:00 - 4:30 PM at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC
The SAGE Center has partnered with Beth Israel Medical Center to provide a monthly series addressing health concerns that LGBT older adults face.  Join us this month for a workshop specifically geared towards women’s health.

SHE (Strong. Healthy. Energized) Fitness Program
April 2, 2014 - June 18, 2014
2:00 - 3:00 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC
SAGE has announced its second offering of the SHE (Strong. Healthy. Energized) FREE fitness program, which is a holistic series of 12 sessions that include exercises, nutritional and cooking information as well as discussions. The goal is to help participants (overweight lesbians and bisexual women over 60) approach fitness and weight issues in a comfortable, fun atmosphere.  RSVP to Felicia: fsobel@sageusa.org or call her at 212-741-2247.

Ongoing Programs/Groups:

Women: Our Evolving Lives with Felicia
Weekly on Tuesdays
6:00 - 7:30 pm at SAGE, 305 7th Avenue, 6th Floor, Conference Room 1, NYC
Women-only discussion group for those who wish to talk in a welcoming and open environment.  Please contact Felicia for more information.

Women's Support Group
Weekly on Wednesdays
3:30 - 5:30 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC
A welcoming support group for women who need to need to talk or listen in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere. Experience the empowerment of this peer-led group.

Women's Group: Relationships with Felicia
Weekly on Thursdays
3:30 - 5:30 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC
This free group requires pre-registration. Contact Felicia for more information and to register. This women-led group is a safe place to talk about relationships and whatever else is going on in life. 

Trans Women's Group
2nd Thursday of the Month
6:30 - 8:30 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC
A recent discussion group faciliated by Jackie and Asia. Open to all transgender women who would like to talk about life and issues in a supportive and welcoming environment.

SAGE Harlem Women's 40+ Support Group
1st Friday of the month
6:00 - 8:00 pm at SAGE Harlem, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd., Suite 201, NYC
Support Group by and for lesbian and bisexual 40+ women.  Refreshments served and new-comers welcome.  Come meet friends and SAGE staff in a supportive and welcoming atmosphere.

March 6, 2014

LGBT Health Month is Here

1003088Did you know that March is New York's LGBT Health Month (in addition to Women's History Month, of course)?

This year's theme is "Access to Care" -- focusing on increased health services for LGBT New Yorkers, including the options under the Affordable Care Act. Since LGBT older adults deal with significant health disparities across areas related to physical and mental health, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and more, "Access to Care" is even more important for our population.

Throughout the month, we will be highlighting a variety of SAGE programs, fact sheets and reports related to the health and wellbeing of our LGBT older adults. To kick things off, we're including a list of all SAGE programs featured in the NYS LGBT Health Awareness Month Calendar and don't forget our special page for information on the Affordable Care Act.

The programs below are offered at The SAGE Center at 305 Seventh Avenue on the 15th floor and are for LGBT adults age 60 and over. 

  • Dealing with Stress: Saturdays from 3-4:30 - Psychotherapist-led open support group
  • Health as a Memoir: Wednesday, March 12, 3 – 4:30 pm- Workshop from Say Ah! that works with you to construct your  personal health history and thereby better help you maintain your health
  • Ask The Docs – Workshop on Women’s Health: Monday, March 24,  3-4:30 pm – Our monthly series with specialists from Beth Israel, focusing in March month on women’s health issues in honor of Women’s History month
  • S.H.E. (Strong. Healthy. Energized): Wednesday, March 5, 2-3 pm – An informational session our 12 week fitness program for lesbian and bisexual women to be launched in April
  • Max, the Therapy Dog: Mondays  3/3, 3/10, 3/24 & 3/31 at 6:30 pm  
  • Meditation: Tuesdays, 4-4:45 pm – With Dojun
  • Gentle Yoga: Tuesdays, 6:15-7 pm
  • Tai Chi: Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30 – With Doc Woodbine
  • Blood Pressure Clinic: Thursdays, 3:30-4 pm – Get your blood pressure checked with Nurse Mary
  • Movement Workshop: Tuesdays, 3:30-4:30 pm – With Billy
  • Medicare Minute: Wednesday, March 12th at 4:30 – Part D Appeals
  • Ask the Pharmacist: Tuesday, March 18, 4-4:45 pm – Marina, pharmacist from Walgreen’s, talks about foot care
  • MS Support Group: Mondays at 6:30 pm – Drop-in for all ages, facilitated by MS Society

Additionally, our SAGE Harlem location at 2090 Seventh Ave. @ 125th Street, Suite 201 offers:

  • New Beginnings HIV Support Group: Tuesdays, 2-3:30 pm – drop in for MSM’s age 40 and over
  • Sexuality & Spirituality Discussions : Mondays, 3/10 & 3/24, 2:30-4 pm with Program Coordinator Chris Jones
  • Grief Group: Saturdays, 3/3  & 3/15 – Support group for older adults (50+) dealing with grief & loss

The SAGE Center Brooklyn, at 30 Third Avenue in the YWCA, 2nd floor offers:

  • Gentle Yoga: Thursdays, 1-2 pm (except no class 3/20) – With Ria Cooper
January 23, 2014

LGBT Advocates Disappointed Rules for Community Care Fail to Protect LGBT Older Adults

The undersigned LGBT organizations are deeply disappointed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will not add explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT and other consumers to Medicaid’s Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program. Our organizations along with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, have urged HHS over the past three years to adopt these protections to ensure low-income older adults and people with disabilities can receive needed services and supports without fear of refusal, harassment, or other discrimination because of who they are. The protections were not included in a final rule issued on Thursday to strengthen standards for the long-running program.

HHS seemingly based its decision to reject these LGBT protections, which have been included in other HHS programs, on the notion that general nondiscrimination protections already exist. Despite being made aware of the critical need for explicit LGBT consumer protections, as well as protections on the basis of religion, marital status, and source of payment, HHS simply stated in a new HCBS regulation that these protections were "not necessary."

HHS's surprising statement that protections for LGBT older adults are "not necessary" is contradicted by reports from the Institute of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which have found that discrimination against LGBT people in health settings is widespread. A survey of providers, LGBT consumers, and family members conducted with the National Senior Citizens Law Center found that most believed anti-LGBT discrimination was a problem in long-term care settings and many had witnessed discrimination. Failure to include explicit protections undermines efforts prevent anti-LGBT discrimination in home- and community-based care.

We call on HHS to take immediate action to ensure the health and safety of LGBT older adults and people with disabilities by addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in amended rule or guidance. We also strongly urge HHS to take action to address anti-LGBT discrimination in other health care settings, particularly hospitals and nursing homes. While we urge LGBT consumers who face discrimination in any health setting, including home- and community-based services, to file complaints with HHS on the ground of sex discrimination, explicit LGBT protections are needed to prevent mistreatment and denials of care.

  • Human Rights Campaign
  • FORGE
  • Lambda Legal
  • National Center for Transgender Equality
  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
  • Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
December 17, 2013

Be Out2Enroll by December 23

This blog post is from Out2Enroll. Out2Enroll is an organization devoted to helping all LGBT people find the answers they need to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. For details specific to LGBT older adults, please visit the SAGE Affordable Care Act site here.

OuttoenrollHappy holidays! This year, we’re celebrating more than family, friends, food, and exciting progress in the fight for marriage equality. Why? Because December is also about health. Your health. Your family’s health. Your friends’ health. Our community’s health.

Why? For too long, health care has failed to meet the needs of many in the LGBT community. It has failed to provide coverage when we needed it most, failed to recognize our families, and failed to protect us from financial ruin.

Our community deserves better. Which is why we are excited for the new affordable options that are now available thanks to health reform!

For the first time for many, financial assistance is available to help you afford low- or no-cost health insurance and you may be able to apply jointly with your same-sex partner. Plus, the new marketplaces and coverage cannot discriminate against LGBT people. You can expect the same access to services that non-LGBT people receive and you can no longer be denied coverage or charged more simply for being yourself. And these are just a few of the new benefits.

Why the holidays? Because December – specifically, December 23 – is the date you need to enroll in health insurance to make sure you have coverage on January 1, 2014. You can still sign up next year but it’s important to start the new year off healthy – and covered!

Still have questions? No problem. There are great LGBT-specific resources at www.out2enroll.org, which has answers to your most burning LGBT questions, an awesome video from Jason Collins, and a blog with stories of people like you who were able to get health insurance that fits their needs and their budget.

This holiday season, make sure you check out www.out2enroll.org and connect with www.healthcare.gov to explore your new coverage options today by December 23!

November 18, 2013

The Unmeasured LGBT Life

Today’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. It was originally featured on The Huffington Post.

1robertI spent the summer of 2012 homebound, recovering alone in my 400-square-foot studio apartment in Brooklyn. A serious accident on Memorial Day led to ankle surgery, 12 weeks on crutches and the final stretch of August re-learning to walk. When you live alone and are relatively immobile, the days are epic, and the psyche churns with questions: Would I fully regain my ability to walk? Had I amassed the proper support network of friends at this stage in my adult life? And if I remained in New York City, a city fraught with opportunities yet rife with inequality, how should I plan for my aging as a queer person?

It was fitting, then, that I began working that summer on policy guidance to compel the New York State Department of Health to include LGBT-specific questions in its statewide patient assessment system for specific Medicaid-funded providers—a policy win announced this week. As I interviewed researchers and health leaders from around the country to grasp the implications, and as I schooled myself on the state of LGBT data collection, I found myself growing lonelier by the week. I couldn’t help picturing my later years at the mercy of providers and researchers who are indifferent, or even hostile, to my queer life.

I work daily on the politics that underlie these issues, and I’ve arrived at this proposition: as we age, each of us will reach a moment where we’ll need to ask for support in dealing with the frailty incurred through aging. But if we’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), the type of institutional support we receive at that point will rely largely on the questions that have already been asked about us. If we’re denied these data to craft relevant health interventions, we will perish off-screen in droves, measured only by the shallowest of statistics. 

Continue reading "The Unmeasured LGBT Life" »

November 8, 2013

SAGE Speaks at Senate Committee Meeting on Aging

Adams_senate
SAGE Executive Director, Michael Adams, sits next to Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center at the November 6th Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.


On November 6, several leaders in the aging field met with the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to discuss programs that are critical to the health and economic security of older Americans. SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams, one of the speakers at this meeting, highlighted the unique needs of LGBT older people and how federal programs can support healthy aging for all elders.

The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and leaders from across the nation. Each year, the Steering Committee hosts numerous meetings with advocates, policy experts, and elected officials to discuss key priorities The Steering Committee is chaired by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and vice chaired by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Fifteen senators participated in the November 6 meeting, including Harry Reid (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and  Jeff Merkley (D-OR), lead sponsor of ENDA.

To read more about the meeting, visit the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee’s page. Photos from the event can be found here.