WASHINGTON The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the nation's largest association of GLBT healthcare professionals, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nations largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization, today announced the release of an industry-changing nationwide reportthe Healthcare Equality Index (HEI)which for the first time rates the nations hospitals on a set of baseline standards of patient care for GLBT Americans.
The HEI is the first step toward establishing a nationwide set of standards to reduce discrimination and ensure quality hospital-based health care. The absence of federal protections, inadequate state laws and inconsistent hospital policies often result in discrimination and inadequate health care for GLBT patients and their families. Too many times, a gay man has been unable to comfort his partner, a transgender person has been ridiculed instead of treated, or a lesbian mom has been barred from seeing her child at the hospital.
The HEI is modeled after the Human Rights Campaign Foundations successful Workplace Projects Corporate Equality Index, which rates corporations based on equality standards for GLBT workers and has led to over 50 percent of the Fortune 500 offering benefits to same-sex partners today, up from just a handful in 2000. By shining a national spotlight on companies employment practices and educating GLBT community and all Americans on equality standards, these companies were moved toward equal treatment of all employees. The HEI is expected to achieve similar results in the healthcare community by calling attention to discriminatory practices and, over time, establishing a gold standard of policies to ensure equality of treatment.
In a national conference call, Human Rights Campaign Foundation President
By publishing the Healthcare Equality Index, we not only shine a light on the top performing hospitals, but also draw attention to prejudices that GLBT Americans must face during some of their most critical moments, said Human Rights Campaign Foundation President
The strong participation we're seeing by hospitals across the country reflects a trend within the healthcare industry of focusing on GLBT patients as a specific patient population with some unique needs, said Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. We're encouraged by this because this kind of private, voluntary action is one of the most important ways we're going to be able to reduce some of the health disparities that GLBT people currently experience.
By creating a standard set of best practices that can be replicated by states, hospitals, and other healthcare services nationwide, the HEI is already moving the healthcare industry toward policies, standards, and training that ensure equal treatment for the GLBT community.
We are proud to participate in the Healthcare Equality Index survey and honored to be the only
We are pleased to participate in the Healthcare Equality Index, and help set a high standard so that healthcare discrimination is not practiced on any level, said Martin P. Sander, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Hospital Affairs at
The MGH is deeply committed to providing equitable, compassionate and high quality care to our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and their families, a level of care that is standard across our diverse patient population, says Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of the
"UCSF Medical Center is very proud to have met each and every criterion of the Healthcare Equality Indexand, above all, proud that providing competent, equitable care for LGBT people and their families is part of what we do every day, said Mark Laret, Chief Executive Officer of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
Through the HEI, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation surveyed 88 hospitals across the country and rated them on five areas of policy and practice: patient non-discrimination, hospital visitation, decision making, cultural competency training and employment non-discrimination. With non-existent or incomplete state health laws and differing hospital policies that can lead to discrimination and inadequate health care for GLBT patients and their families, the HEI creates a baseline understanding of existing hospital policies, measures improvement from year to year, and establishes a gold standard for culturally competent care of GLBT Americans.
The 2008 Healthcare Equality Index is available online in PDF format: www.hrc.org/hei. The design and implementation of the report, to be released each spring, is conducted by the HEI Advisory Council, whose members include representatives from the healthcare industry and organizations serving the GLBT community. The HEI will continue to expand its work on hospital policies to also include long-term care, assisted living, hospice, community health clinics and other branches of the healthcare industry in future editions.
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association has been working since 1981 to ensure equality in healthcare for GLBT patients and healthcare providers, through advocacy, education, research and patient referrals.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is
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State Healthcare Laws for GLBT Couples: A Patchwork of Inequality
Due to incomplete and oftentimes inadequate state laws and differing hospital policies across the country, there are many challenges in guaranteeing equal health treatment for the GLBT community. The Healthcare Equality Index was created to help identify and promote the widespread adoption of standards that ensure equality and reduce discrimination in hospital-based healthcare.
Below is a list of state healthcare laws relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community:
Laws governing medical decision making (i.e. whether or not one partner may make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner). These are laws that allow a partner, loved one, or caregiver to make decisions when no express advance directive exists.
Some states provide same-sex partners the same rights as different-sex spouses to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partnerthese are: CO, CT (if partners enter into a civil union), DC (if partners enter into a DP), HI (if partners are reciprocal beneficiaries), ME, MA (if partners are married), NH (CU), NJ (CU), NM, OR (DP), VT (CU), WA (DP), and CA (DP)
Other states give same-sex partners second class statuse.g. if no family member is available, the partner can make a decision as a close friend (or similar term that may be used by the law). These states are: AK, AZ, DE, FL, ID, IL, MD, MS, NY, ND, PA, SD, TN, UT, WV, WY
Some states give partners equal hospital visitation rights on same terms as spousesgenerally, are all states that recognize same-sex relationships in some way. The states are:
CA (DP), CT (CU), DC (DP), HI (reciprocal beneficiaries), ME (DP), MA (marriage), NH (CU), NJ (CU), OR (DP), VT (CU), WA (DP)
Note: MD just passed a bill permitting partners to make medical decisions for incapacitated partners and providing equal visitation rights (same as spouse). The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law.
Every state, plus DC, permits express advance designation of a medical decision maker (e.g. through a health care power of attorney, a designated health care agent, or a living will). That means someone can designate his or her partner as a decisionmaker as long as the designation is made in writing, often through a specific type of document like a living will or power of attorney.