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Quigley, Howard Brown Health, HHS Push to Enroll LGBT Community through Healthcare Marketplace

Jan 5, 2016
Press Release

CHICAGO – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Kathleen Falk, Region V Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health urged those that have yet to sign up for health care insurance to take action before the January 15th deadline in order to get health care coverage that starts February 1st. The percentage of LGBTQ adults without health insurance has decreased since the Affordable Care Act's health insurance provisions took full effect at the beginning of 2014; however, significant numbers of LGBTQ individuals remain uninsured.

“Before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, premiums were rising three times faster than wages, the rising costs of health care were hurting small businesses, and Americas were denied coverage because of preexisting conditions,” said Rep. Quigley. “But now, thanks to the ACA, all Americans have access to affordable health insurance, which is especially important for groups that have unique health needs or have traditionally been underserved, like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Thanks to Howard Brown Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the many community groups for their help in enrolling our LGBT friends before the January 15 deadline.” 

From left to right: Rachel Maher, Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator for Howard Brown Health; Michael Ziri, Director of Public Policy for Equality Illinois; Molly Malone, ACA consumer; David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health; U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05); Kathleen Falk, Region V Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney

“There are many ways to enroll, and Howard Brown Health can help,” said David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health. “The LGBT community is impacted by a wide range of health concerns, from diabetes to HIV to substance use, and we’re proud to help provide a path to insurance coverage to address these issues. A consumer may shop on his or her own at GetCoveredIllinois.gov, or stop and see us here at Howard Brown. Assistance is free and confidential.”

“We are off to a very strong start to Open Enrollment. We are seeing record demand, and our message of quality, affordable coverage is resonating,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region V Director Kathleen Falk. “But we know there are many more still without, including many in the LGBTQ community. As Open Enrollment proceeds, we’re not taking our foot off the gas pedal and neither are our great partners. We are so grateful for the leadership and efforts of Congressman Quigley and all these great community organizations.”

Officials announced updates from the third Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment period, including local enrollment opportunities and the 2016 penalty for those who do not enroll. Additionally, officials shared an update on the President’s Healthy Communities Challenge; Chicagoland was one of twenty communities selected by the President for this special enrollment challenge. 

According to the 2013 National Health Interview Survey, which included measures on sexual orientation, the rate of uninsurance among lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults aged 18-64 at that time was comparable to that of the heterosexual population (19.0 percent versus 20.1 percent, respectively). However, for LGBTQ adults with incomes below 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, one in three were uninsured in 2013, compared to 27 percent in the general population, and they were less likely to have employee-sponsored insurance. The percentage of LGBTQ adults without health insurance has decreased since the Affordable Care Act's health insurance provisions took full effect at the beginning of 2014; however, significant numbers of LGBTQ individuals remain uninsured.

Rep. Quigley was proud to vote for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the landmark health care reform law that has helped millions of Americans gain access to health insurance, and has been a staunch advocate for the LGBT community since his election to Congress. He supported the ACA because of the important reforms that it made to our nation’s health care system. Health insurance companies can no longer drop someone’s coverage because of a pre-existing condition or impose lifetime spending caps on coverage. Americans now have access to preventive health care and important screenings at no out-of-pocket cost. Finally, health care decisions are finally in the hands of Americans – not the insurance companies. 

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