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HRC report on LGBT healthcare equality

2012 Report Sees Great Progress toward LGBT Healthcare Equality

 WASHINGTON – The number of American hospitals striving to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients equally and respectfully is on the rise, according to a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation at a press conference with U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. Much work remains to be done to end discrimination in America’s healthcare system, but the once invisible issue of LGBT healthcare equity is gaining national prominence, with healthcare facilities committing themselves to offering unbiased care.

“Just a few short years ago the healthcare industry wasn’t having conversations about LGBT healthcare equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Now, thanks to advocacy by the LGBT community and some standout leaders, growing numbers of healthcare providers are making an explicit commitment to treat all patients with dignity and respect. The healthcare industry is beginning to heed the call for fairness and compassion.”

The report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. This year’s survey found a 40 percent increase in rated facilities, which totaled 407 nationwide. It also found an impressive 162 percent increase in the number of facilities achieving the status of “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality,” special recognition given to facilities earning a perfect rating by meeting four core criteria for LGBT patient-centered care laid out in the HEI.

The HEI 2012 rates 11 Boston area healthcare facilities, eight of which were named “Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality” for their perfect ratings. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Faulkner Hospital, Fenway Health, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Mount Auburn Hospital and Newton-Wellesley Hospital received the “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” designation. Other participants include Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts Medical Center.

The HEI helps hospitals assess themselves against established best practices and ensure that they are complying with requirements for non-discrimination. These include a requirement issued last year by The Joint Commission, the largest accrediting body for U.S. hospitals, calling on all accredited facilities to extend non-discrimination protection to LGBT patients.

Over 90 percent of HEI 2012 participants explicitly prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual patients, and 76 percent ban discrimination against transgender patients. Additionally, about 75 percent of respondents have a written policy explicitly granting equal visitation rights to same-sex couples and same-sex parents. This represents a significant increase since the Department of Health and Human Services issued rules in 2011 requiring all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding – nearly every hospital in America – to protect the visitation rights of LGBT people. 

For the first time, the HEI additionally required participating facilities to document that high-level managers in key work areas had received expert training in LGBT health needs. As a result, more than 1,000 healthcare administrators across the country participated in training provided through the HEI.

“I commend the LGBT and healthcare communities for the progress made and I am proud to be part of an administration that has a historic record of accomplishment for the LGBT community,” said Sec. Sebelius. “We will continue to take action to ensure that LGBT Americans get equal treatment in healthcare settings and that all patients are treated with the dignity they deserve.”

Studies, including a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, have shown that the LGBT community faces health disparities and healthcare discrimination and that many LGBT Americans are concerned about experiencing bias in healthcare. But things are changing, as the HEI 2012 documents.

“Equal and inclusive healthcare saves lives,” added Griffin. “Increasing numbers of hospitals across the country are working to ensure LGBT patients receive care free of prejudice and discrimination. We thank the HEI 2012 participants for their hard work and dedication to ensuring healthcare equality for all patients.”

HEI Core Four Rating Criteria 2012* 2011* 2010*
  1. Patient Non-Discrimination
1a. “Sexual Orientation” in Patient Non-Discrimination Policy 90.2% (+0.5%) 89.7% (+6%) 83.7%
1b. “Gender Identity” in Patient Non-Discrimination Policy 76.2    (+16.4) 59.8 (+30.6) 29.2
  1. Visitation
2a. Explicitly Inclusive Visitation Policy Grants Equal Access for Same-Sex Couples 74.5    (+21.9) 52.6 (+20.8) 31.8
2b. Explicitly Inclusive Visitation Policy Grants Equal Access for Same-Sex Parents 74.0    (+25.4) 48.6 (+16.3) 32.3
  1. Employment Non-Discrimination
3a. “Sexual Orientation” in Employment Non-Discrimination Policy 96.7      (+5.9) 90.8 93.8
3b. “Gender Identity” in Employment Non-Discrimination Policy 74.6    (+10.2) 64.4 (+12.2) 52.2
  1. Training
Provides Training in LGBT Patient-Centered Care for Key Staff Members 67.2 ** **

* Lists of survey respondents are not identical from year to year.

** Training criterion differed significantly prior to 2012 survey

View the HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index 2012 at www.hrc.org/hei.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

The Humane Society of the United States Releases 2011 Ranking of State Animal Protection Laws

Massachusetts Ranks Fourth in Country, Ties with Illinois

WASHINGTON―The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, has released its third annual “Humane State Ranking,” a comprehensive report rating all 50 states and Washington D.C. on a wide range of animal protection laws, including animal cruelty codes, equine protection standards, wildlife issues, animals in research and farm animal policy.

Earning the highest scores are California (first place), New Jersey and Oregon (tied for second place), and Illinois and Massachusetts (tied for fourth).

“Massachusetts has a proud history of animal protection. The Commonwealth was the first state in America to pass animal cruelty legislation. We hope that the current state legislature will continue to lead the nation when it comes to animal protection by joining the eight other states that passed farm animal welfare reforms in recent years,” said Alexis Fox, Massachusetts state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Earning the lowest scores are South Dakota (last place), Idaho (50), North Dakota and South Carolina (tied for 48), Mississippi (47) and Alabama and Missouri (tied for 45).

“Our Humane State Ranking provides a big-picture look at how states are faring on animal-protection policies, and how they rank in the nation,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “There are some states that are adopting innovative and strong policies to protect animals, while others are lagging badly. Animal protection is a serious matter for tens of millions of Americans, and we hope state lawmakers fulfill their moral responsibility and help us crack down on abuses.”

California tops the list for the third year in a row in the Humane State Ranking, and is in a category all by itself after lawmakers and the governor worked to enact nearly a dozen new measures. Thanks both to strong citizen support for ballot measures and robust and consistent efforts by the state legislature, California law protects pets from being sold along roadsides, antifreeze poisoning and continuous chaining; prohibits use of steel-jawed leghold traps to take wildlife; bans the shark fin trade, horse slaughter and mountain lion trophy hunting; and protects farm animals from extreme confinement and tail docking.

South Dakota ranks last with a score of eight out of 66. Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota received especially low marks in part because they are the only three states in the country with no felony penalty for egregious acts of animal cruelty. North Dakota voters also rejected a ballot measure to stop captive hunts for mammals on the November 2010 ballot, keeping the state near the bottom of the state rankings list. Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia are also the 11 states that do not have felony-level penalties for cockfighting. Mississippi did, however, enact felony penalties for certain malicious acts of cruelty.

Several states showed strong upward movement. Ohio moved to 36 from 45 after the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board adopted standards to phase out veal and gestation crates and tail docking of dairy cows and barred new battery-cage egg facilities and required humane euthanasia of downer cows. The state will be under close scrutiny this year as it considers vital legislation to ban the private ownership of dangerous exotics, to make cockfighting a felony, and to set up humane standards for large-scale commercial dog breeding operations―all elements of an eight-point agreement worked out between The HSUS, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural commodity groups.

Texas (tied for 25) moved up from 36 the year before, after passing legislation to upgrade its anti-cockfighting law and to pass humane breeding standards for dogs and cats. Hawaii (tied for 38) climbed from 45 because it strengthened its anti-dogfighting law, just a year after it banned the sale and possession of shark fins. Maryland (tied for 15, from 19) worked to improve the state’s puppy mill law. Oregon (tied for second place) surged from 10 a year earlier after another set of solid policy-making advances. Both California and Oregon, along with Washington state (tied for sixth place), enacted legislation to prohibit the sale and possession of shark fins.

In 2011, The HSUS helped pass 90 new laws and regulations to protect animals and helped to defeat more than a hundred harmful measures.

The ranking was based on 66 different animal protection issues in 10 major animal protection categories including: animal fighting; animal cruelty; puppy mills; use of animals in research; equine protection; wildlife abuse; factory farming; fur and trapping; exotic animals; and companion animal laws. The HSUS ranking provides a different frame of reference than the recent report published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which are focused on the broad range of provisions that are included in state and territorial anti-cruelty statutes. Together, both the HSUS and ALDF ratings provide important yet distinct measures of how states are dealing with a broad range of animal welfare problems in society.