On April 2, 2013, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala held an intimate roundtable discussion entitled "Common Sense Immigration Reform."
The Secretary reached out to representatives of various sectors of the community, including the Caribbean, Hispanic, and Asian communities, and, speaking volumes for the current administration, the LGBT community. We are honored that the Department of Health and Human Services specifically reached out to SAVE Dade to represent the LGBT community.
Over the last several years, the Secretary, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the current administration have taken numerous positive measures in adopting inclusionary policies for people who are LGBT, policies that were previously considered out of reach. These policies focus on trying to reduce and eliminate the health care disparities between LGBT and non-LGBT communities, including addressing hospital visitation rights, providing protections under the Affordable Care Act, and funding for cultural competency trainings for health care providers and HHS grantees related to LGBT patients. We often see big business lead the charge for social change. It is refreshing to see the federal government moving in sync with big business on the issues affecting the LGBT community. We are seeing an alignment on issues such as eliminating the ability of medical providers to legally refuse to treat patients because they are transgender and prohibiting the denial of coverage or cancellation of insurance based on being transgender.
We at SAVE Dade are delighted to have been specifically selected by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide input on immigration reforms. LGBT people face one of the more difficult pathways to citizenship, and the potential repeal of DOMA provides the opportunity for the Department of Health and Human Services to implement additional guidelines and policies that positively impact our community and improve our quality of life. The Secretary's HHS LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee 2012 Report provides useful information on the steps the current administration has taken which affect our lives. You can view the report at www.hhs.gov\secretary\about\lgbthealth_objectives_2012.html.
As we sat around the table with representatives of the various South Florida communities, it was clear that our seat was provided because, in the eyes of the Secretary, the LGBT community should be considered equal.