Martha McSally Haunted by Decision to Strip Life-Saving Health Care Coverage from Americans

HRC marks the three year anniversary of Senator Martha McSally voting for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017 in the U.S. House, which would have gutted protections for the 2.8 millions Arizonans living with asthma, cancer, diabetes and other pre-existing conditions. 

According to the Arizona Republic, Senator Martha McSally’s campaign is running a new ad that features a former staffer without disclosing their previous relationship or that the former paid staffer in 2014 “helped defend McSally’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act and roll its coverage protections back.” 

“On the anniversary of her vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we remember how Martha McSally dangerously voted to strip ten million Americans and 2.8 million Arizonans of life-saving health care coverage,” said HRC Arizona State Director Bridget Sharpe. “McSally’s vote would have negatively impacted communities already facing discrimination and health care disparities, including the LGBTQ community. Millions of Arizonans with pre-existing conditions will not forget how McSally has failed them over and again in Washington. McSally can run but she cannot hide from her record on health care.”

As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), thousands of low-income people living with HIV have been able to obtain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This critical coverage ensures that people living with HIV have access to lifesaving treatments. The AHCA’s drastic changes to Medicaid would have likely stripped these people, and other vulnerable populations, of essential healthcare coverage.

McSally’s pattern of not standing up for Arizonans and their health care is especially troublesome as America deals with the COVD-19 pandemic. In 2017, McSally voted to slash $1 billion in funds for the CDC’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, including hundreds of millions set aside “for detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats.” McSally has refused to speak out against the Trump Administration’s  ongoing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying, “it’s not my role” to get involved. McSally has also been caught lying about her attempts to take health care away from millions of Americans and “crowing about a ventilator deal that’s less than it appears.”

HRC recently published a research brief outlining the particular health and economic risks faced by the LGBTQ community during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Many in the LGBTQ community are uniquely vulnerable, as they are more likely to work jobs in highly affected industries, often with more exposure and/or higher economic sensitivity to the COVID-19 crisis, are less likely to have health coverage and are more likely to smoke and have chronic illnesses like asthma. Read the full brief here.

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HRC Observes National Transgender HIV Testing Day

Post submitted by HRC HIV & Health Equity Program Coordinator Dimetri O’Brien

National Transgender HIV Testing Day (April 18) recognizes the importance of HIV testing and the continued focus on HIV prevention and treatment efforts among trans people. 

Black and Latinx trans women have disproportionately high HIV rates and less access to culturally competent care. HIV testing is an effective prevention tool that can actively engage trans people and communities in their sexual health and wellness while empowering them to make healthy choices that improve their lives. HIV testing also allows health care providers to identify those who are living with HIV and to start treatment efforts sooner allowing them to attain viral suppression. 

The goals of NTHTD are: 

  • Increasing status awareness among all groups of trans and non-binary people; 
  • Increasing capacity of local health jurisdictions to meet the HIV testing;
  • Addressing the prevention and treatment needs of trans people; 
  • Reducing HIV and other health-related disparities experienced by trans and non-binary people, with a specific focus on trans women of color. 

In the spirit of community, HRC spoke with Tori Cooper, HRC’s Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative. 

1. Why is National Transgender HIV Testing Day important to you? 

NTHTD is important to me because there is no group of people in the United States more impacted by HIV than the transgender community, particularly Black and Brown trans women. In some places, our numbers are similar to Black and Brown cis men who have sex with men, but estimates are much higher in communities across the Deep South. And while experts say Black cis men who have sex with men have a 1 in 2 chance of acquiring HIV in their lifetimes if things don’t change, the reality is for Black trans women, estimates already have 50 percent of us living with HIV. We are a smaller group of people, so our community is impacted even more greatly in terms of life expectancy, household income and overall health outcomes.

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the trans experience? 

Current news cycles are highlighting that Black, Latinx and LGBTQ people are faring far worse during the pandemic. Trans folks have historically had less access to health care and resources than the rest of the queer community. With this in mind, trans folks are more often employed in lower-wage jobs that perhaps ended early because of COVID-19. We are even more disadvantaged during a pandemic.

3. How can people engage in advocacy under the current stay at home order, specifically trans people? 

We can all engage in advocacy by reaching out to our friends and support systems, safely sharing our resources and staying sheltered whenever possible, if possible. For trans and non-binary folks who are deemed essential workers and service workers, we must support their health and livelihoods by following the rules that are in place to protect us all.

This NTHTD and the rest of the year, we can engage with national and local resources that help people of trans experience and support those communities. Helpful resources include:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Act Against AIDS
Doing It Campaign
AIDS.gov 
Center of Excellence for Transgender Health

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Our History Has Prepared Us For This. A Note from HRC President Alphonso David on COVID-19

OUR POWER AND OUR CHALLENGE

The LGBTQ community has known adversity. In fact, we have drawn much of our strength and power from times of great uncertainty. From blatant discrimination to government indifference, from the AIDS crisis to relentless attacks on who we are and who we love, from bills attacking our transgender siblings to regulations removing protections that have existed for decades, we have seen our fair share of struggle. But in each of these struggles, we have banded together to overcome challenges that seemed insurmountable. With your help, we have harnessed our fear and our anger and turned them into strength.

Now, we are living in an extraordinary moment yet again. As the world watches the spread of COVID-19, many of us, myself included, are concerned and afraid for ourselves and our loved ones. And that fear cannot be minimized. But it can be the basis for action. As we have time and again, we must raise our voices together to fight for our community, to lift each other up and to vote out those who are not protecting us. 

THE UNIQUE ROLE OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN

The strength of the Human Rights Campaign comes from its members and supporters: 3.1 million strong, all around the world. Together, we have worked to shape public opinion, win elections, pass laws, defeat bad legislation and remove from office those who attack our community.  We have raised millions of dollars to support equality around the world. We have partnered with coalition allies and created communities, even for those who felt isolated. You helped us build this power, and we are deeply grateful. 

COVID-19 affects all of us, but it has a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people. Some key statistics: 40 percent of all industries that LGBTQ people work in are likely to be impacted by COVID-19, impacting 5 million LGBTQ people; a disproportionate number of LGBTQ people work in restaurants (15%) compared to their non-LGBTQ peers (6%); and 17 percent of LGBTQ people lack health insurance. And our aging population and folks with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk. 

As we have done before in times of crisis, we will use our power to push for legislative and policy changes that will help our community. We will support aid packages and push lawmakers to include provisions and funding for our community. We will work in coalition to identify the communities most affected by this crisis and not rest until our lawmakers directly address the needs of our community and others. We will be counting on you, and our army of grassroots supporters, to support our lobbying and advocacy efforts, and we will use every ounce of our strength to ensure our community gets through this. 

And anti-equality lawmakers won’t rest either. Even in this pandemic, lawmakers in state legislatures are still pushing anti-LGBTQ laws. We need you to continue fighting them as hard as they’re fighting to discriminate against us.

Further, we will give each other places to connect and spaces to grieve, celebrate and gather — even if they are only virtual. We have a robust infrastructure, built by our volunteers and community leaders, and an even broader reach. Because of this, we will be able to engage with you online and on the phone and we will discuss plans for gathering in person when it is safe to do so. 

And, we will continue to build on the important work of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which creates programs and research that have been key in addressing the inequities and inequalities that LGBTQ people face. From working with hospitals and healthcare providers to better serve LGBTQ people, to improving the inclusivity of the workplace and schools to ensuring justice for transgender people in this country, our Foundation has made a huge difference in the daily lives of LGBTQ people. And in this crisis, our programs are responding to educate the public and meet the needs of our community. We’re working in coalition with partners across the LGBTQ movement and beyond. And we’re continuing to engage with local activists to understand what more we can do to help. This work will continue to have an incalculable effect on pushing equality forward. 

THE ELECTION 

You already know that this is the most important election of our lifetimes: one where the very future of the LGBTQ community and our nation hang in the balance. This pandemic has only crystallized why it is so important that we defeat Donald Trump and Mike Pence and elect competent, pro-equality leaders in November. Lives are literally at risk and this administration has shown us time and time again that they are asleep at the wheel.

We have already seen you activate around this election: LGBTQ voters are turning out in record numbers in primary contests across the country. Now, we have to continue to engage, in whatever ways we can, to ensure we win. We have so much at stake already: the future of our democracy, the value of the rule of law, the future of the Supreme Court and the judiciary, the importance of passing the Equality Act which will prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people and the moral and legal responsibility to fight for the rights and dignity of transgender people, especially trans women of color. if we don’t vote, we are leaving our fate, and our rights, to be determined by someone else. And, as painfully highlighted by the handling of this crisis, it is even more clear that we need new leadership. We will be with you every step of the way to make sure that happens.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO

We cannot stop fighting. We cannot stop fighting an administration who treated this pandemic like a political stunt and has endangered the lives of millions, who has from day one undermined our rights, welfare, and progress. We cannot stop fighting to ensure that our community gets the resources and support that it needs. We cannot stop fighting anti-equality lawmakers who — while we are facing a national crisis — are moving ahead with divisive, discriminatory legislation in the states that harms our most vulnerable. We cannot stop fighting until all communities achieve equity and equality. We need you.

This is an abnormal time amid an already abnormal few years. We can get through this. I know this, because we have gotten through crises before. But we cannot do it alone; we have to stand together. 

Please be safe, please continue to wash your hands and please don’t give up.

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