Gays Join Women under Health Care Reform Bus
by psychodrew, Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 01:09:50 PM EST
Yesterday, President Obama introduced his plan to "fix" the Senate version of the health care reform bill so the two chambers can finally get a bill to his desk. The public option wasn't the only thing missing from the president's plan. He also left out a number of provisions important to the sexual minority community.
The House version of HCR contained a number of provisions important to the sexual minority community that were not included in the Senate version of the bill. One of them included eliminating a federal tax on health care benefits received by spouses/same-sex partners of gay and lesbian employees. From Metro Weekly:
Most LGBT and HIV activists had supported the House bill because it included key LGBT specific provisions, including provisions. In addition to the data collection, it prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the provision of health care; enabled people with HIV and low incomes to obtain Medicare coverage earlier in the course of their illness; and eliminated the tax that gay employees must pay if their same-sex partners or spouses receive health coverage from their employers' plan. Straight employees don't pay that tax but, for gay couples, the coverage is characterized by the federal government as additional income for the gay employee.
The big problem here is that the base bill is the Senate version of the bill and the president's compromise. If the "fix" does not include these provisions, then they won't be part of the final bill, even though the House already passed them.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), the openly gay member of Congress who was a leader in adding pro-gay provisions to the House health reform bill, says she hasn't given up hope. She called President Obama's proposal Monday ''an important step forward'' that ''helps to regain our momentum'' on health care reform efforts.
But, she added, ''it is not the final word.''
Baldwin said Monday she would ''continue to fight for all of my priorities in the final health care reform bill, including those related to LGBT health."
But we all saw that conservative Democrats demanded a high price for their votes the first time around--and women's reproductive health care was sacraficed. There is no reason for me to believe that sexual minorities won't join women under the health care bus and once again find ourselves where we were on Inauguration Day--largely tolerated, but expendable at the altar of bipartisanship.