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Sebelius: Obamacare opens door wider to gays, AIDS victims

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday said that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community will be a special focus of Obamacare because "for too long...[they] were pushed to the side."

To honor Lesbian, Gay, Bixexual and Transgender Pride Month in June, the administration is drawing attention to new benefits under Obamacare targeted to the LGBT, which Sebelius said have had their access to health care limited and who, she added, have higher rates of tobacco use and are at increased risk for mental health illness.

Among the benefits to the community under Obamacare are the end of a lifetime coverage limit, which is expected to help victim of HIV/AIDS who are often on an expensive regimen of drugs.

She added that the administration is stepping up their focus on and attention to the LGBT community by adding gender status to health surveys and questionnaires which are critical in determining services under Obamacare.

"For too long, the health concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals were pushed to the side. LGBT individuals have faced limited access to health care and insurance. They have been less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, they have higher rates of tobacco use, and they are often at increased risk for mental health illness," said Sebelius in her statement.

"Like all Americans, LGBT Americans deserve respectful health care providers and the security of accessible, affordable health care that meets their needs. As we observe LGBT Pride Month, I am pleased to say that the Department of Health and Human Services continues working hard to make this a reality for the LGBT community," she added.

The key benefits to the LGBT community under Obamacare, according to the health secretary's statement, are:

-- Insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on health insurance coverage, and annual limits will be phased out in 2014. This is particularly important for people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other chronic diseases requiring comprehensive, long-term care."

-- "Starting in 2014, insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates based on a pre-existing condition or because an individual is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender."

-- "Insurers generally must cover such vital preventive services as HIV screening, vaccinations, depression screening, contraception, intimate-partner violence screening, and annual well-woman visits, at no out-of-pocket charge."

-- "Healthcare.gov includes a health plan finder tool that allows consumers shopping for health insurance to filter for plans offering coverage for domestic and same-sex partners."