21 posts categorized "Healthcare"

October 14, 2014

The White House Highlights Challenges/Opportunities for Addressing HIV/AIDS among Gay and Bi Men

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Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Relations, SAGE and Daniel W. Tietz Chief Special Services Officer Office of the Commissioner, NYC Human Resources Administration

Today's post is written by Aaron Tax, SAGE's SAGE’s Director of Federal Government Relations.

On September 26, 2014, in recognition of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Office of National AIDS Policy hosted a conference at the White House entitled “HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men: FOCUS. ACTION. IMPACT.”

Why this focus? As the White House stated, “In the United States, gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities continue to account for 63% of all new HIV infections. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy unequivocally states that “the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.”’

Given this challenge, the goal of the meeting was to create actual actions steps the White House and federal agencies could take to address the epidemic and implement by the end of the Administration.

By next year, one in two people who are HIV positive will be over the age of 50. This population has higher poverty rates than their counterparts and remains more socially isolated. Yet, neither the aging network nor HIV-serving organizations have all the necessary technical skills, resources, knowledge, or general cultural competency and capacity to work with this population. Aside from an NIH working group focusing on increasing research in this area, no federal agency currently targets interventions at this population.

So as always, SAGE worked to bring an aging lens to the conversation, to highlight the lack of government action on this front.

We co-hosted a break-out session with Dan Tietz, Chief Special Services Officer, Office of the Commissioner, New York City Human Resources Administration, where we specifically focused on HIV and aging – and where we discussed a) how improve care, services, and supports for this population, and b) how to improve testing rates.

Fortuitously, next year, the White House will be hosting the White House Conference on Aging, which presents a great opportunity for the White House to specifically address the unique needs of this population and the need for the government to address the challenges raised at this day-long summit.

We look forward to working with the Administration to see a day when we have universal testing; better data collection; targeted prevention; research interventions; and targeted services and supports for older adults with and at risk for HIV.

 

October 8, 2014

New National Study: Five Things You Should Know About Aging and LGBT People

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

Much has been written about the growing number of older people in this country (as the baby boom generation rapidly ages), as well as the incremental shift in favorable policies and attitudes toward certain segments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population. However, less public attention has been placed on the intersection of these two trends: how LGBT people experience aging, beginning in midlife all the way through later life.

BLOGCovernew research reportOut and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-76—sheds new light on these issues. Based on a 2014 nationally representative study of more than 1,800 LGBT people and more than 500 non-LGBT people, Out and Visible extensively describes how LGBT people feel and experience areas such as healthcare, finance and retirement, support systems, housing and more. The study was commissioned bySAGE and led by Harris Poll.

Here are five things this new study reveals about LGBT older people’s experiences with aging.

1. LGBT older people are concerned about their financial futures and feeling that they need to work much further into later life.  Moreover, many LGBT older people rely largely on their own knowledge and education for retirement planning.

According to this new study, 42 percent of LGBT older people are very or extremely concerned that they will outlive the money they have saved for retirement, as compared to 25 percent of non-LGBT people; and half of all single LGBT older believe they will need to work well beyond retirement age. These findings speak to the importance of public policies that protect and support employment among LGBT people, as well as the critical role that financial planning has on one’s retirement outlook (as two solutions). Additionally, single LGBT people have different needs than partnered LGBT people that merit specific attention (among other characteristics explored in this study).

2. LGBT older people report fearing that if their sexual orientations and gender identities become known by healthcare or long-term care providers, as two examples, they will experience judgment, discrimination and inferior care.

Out and Visible notes that 43 percent of single LGBT older people and 40 percent of LGBT older people age 60 and older say their healthcare providers don't know about their sexual orientations. Two-thirds (65 percent) of transgender older adults fear that they will experience limited access to healthcare as they age. Prior research has documented significant health disparities among LGBT older people, spurred by a combination of poor healthcare access and the stressors of stigma and discrimination. In contrast, candid communication between LGBT people and their providers could play a role in improving their quality of care and ultimately, their overall health and well-being.

3. The support networks of LGBT older people are shrinking, and the housing outlook for many LGBT older people isn't optimistic either.

This new study reveals that 40 percent of LGBT older people report that their support networks have become smaller over time, as compared to 27 percent of non-LGBT people. Additionally, one in eight (13%) LGBT people and one in four (25%) transgender people say they have been discriminated against when searching for housing on the basis of their sexual orientations and gender identities, respectively. Secure housing and a supportive network of friends are essential to all people as they age, especially in preventing poverty and social isolation—yet this study shows that LGBT people might be compromised in this regard.

4. LGBT people are diverse and not a monolith—and this study reveals distinct differences that are relevant to providers, government and the broader private sector.

Two notable examples from this study. According to this study, African American LGBT older people are three times as likely as White or Hispanic LGBT older people to say that people from their churches or faith are part of their support systems. Moreover, transgender older people tend to be more worried about being a burden to their loved ones (48% vs. 32%), and knowing where they will live as they grow older (42% vs. 27%) than their cisgender (non-transgender) peers. The study shows additional differences across income, age, relationship status and more.

5. LGBT older people aspire to take on many of the same activities as their non-LGBT peers—yet this study shows that LGBT people are more likely to want to serve as mentors and many fear what might transpire with these options if their sexual orientations and gender identities become known.

According to the study, LGBT and non-LGBT older people cite similar interests for their retirement years: taking part in leisure activities, travel, volunteering, starting a hobby, working part-time and joining social groups. However, key differences also emerged. According to the study, LGBT older people are twice as likely as non-LGBT older people to envision themselves mentoring others (14% vs. 7%). Also, one in four (27%) LGBT older people and one in three (33%) transgender older people feels that work or volunteer activities will not be open to him/her if others know about his/her sexual orientation and gender identity, respectively. 

This study builds on a growing body of research over the last few years that has increasingly, though insufficiently, studied aging concerns among LGBT older people.The report also offers a host of recommendations for leaders in the public and private sectors, most of which are largely centered on the importance of becoming more responsive to the diversity of LGBT people as they age. We’re all aging, regardless of where we fall on the age spectrum, and we deserve to age into systems that enrich our lives, not hinder them.  In this sense, we can all play a role in building a more equitable society.

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!