PASADENA, Calif., July 29, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A White House meeting with LGBT leaders from around the nation to discuss healthcare issues was "an incredible event, absolutely remarkable," said Rev. Rick Eisenlord, the openly gay pastor of Good Shepherd Church Pasadena and co-founder of the San Gabriel Valley Gay & Lesbian Center.
"Our community has come so far in such a short time," he added. "This was a 'pinch-me' event. The fact that we now have a place at the table would have been inconceivable in the very recent past."
The White House meeting last Thursday was attended by about 100 LGBT leaders invited from around the country. This included participants from Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and California. This is the second consecutive year that Rev. Eisenlord was invited and attended.
Rev. Eisenlord said a major concern of the LGBT community is ensuring that patients with HIV have access to specialized treatment under Obamacare, adding, "This is especially true for those covered by Medi-Cal, for whom HMOs may provide only limited access to such treatment."
Of particular concern was the rise in HIV infections among young gay men and minority populations, he said.
Officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services were supportive of concerns expressed by LGBT leaders during the daylong briefing, he said. It was noted by HHS and Administration officials that in 2013, one-third of all LGBT individuals in lower- and middle-income brackets had no health insurance. Forty-four percent of all LGBT people surveyed reported putting off medical care because they could not afford it.
Other Affordable Care Act challenges noted at the White House briefing included coverage for same-sex couples. Because of the patchwork nature of marriage equality and relationship recognition laws across the United States, some legally married same-sex couples have faced barriers to enrolling in family coverage.
Rev. Eisenlord will hold a town hall meeting in Pasadena in September to discuss progress on those issues.
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