HRC releases Healthcare Equality Index for 2019

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WASHINGTON — Last week, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released the 12th annual Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), which scores health care facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.

This year the foundation had 680 healthcare facilities participate. Those that scored 100 in the survey were named a Leader in LGBTQ Health Care Equality. The foundation also researched another 1,000 hospitals that didn’t participate. More than 400 hospitals earned a perfect score. 

In Illinois, 16 healthcare facilities, outside LGBTQ community healthcare providers, got a perfect score. All but one, VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, were in Chicago or surrounding counties. 

“As the Trump-Pence administration continues to attack the most fundamental rights of LGBTQ people, including rolling back non-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act and promoting a license to discriminate in health care, it is more important than ever that health care institutions stand with the LGBTQ community,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a press release. “The health care facilities that participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index are making clear that they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients. Going beyond inclusive non-discrimination policies, these health care facilities are adopting best practices in the areas of LGBTQ patient care and support, employee policies and benefits, and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. We commend all of the HEI participants for their commitment to providing inclusive care for all.”

The release of the 2019 HEI comes as the comment period closes on a regulation proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would strip away explicit health care protections on the basis of gender identity, effectively targeting transgender and gender non-conforming people’s access to critical care. Under the Obama administration, these landmark protections were added under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the first time sex was covered as a protected characteristic in health care.

The 12th edition of the HEI assesses participants on four criteria: Non-Discrimination and Staff Training, Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies, and Patient and Community Engagement.

In the 2019 report, an impressive 406 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 148 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 81% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

The some of the findings in this year’s survey: 

  • Over half of HEI participants now have written gender transition guidelines;
  • 75% of hospitals surveyed offer trans-inclusive benefits — an impressive eight percentage point increase over last year, and numbers that bring them on par with their corporate counterparts, as measured by HRC’s 2019 CEI
  • A 35% increase in training hours recorded — clocking in at more than 94,000 hours of LGBTQ care training provided;
  • A 60% increase in the number of HEI participants whose electronic health records capture a patient’s sexual orientation, and a 40% increase in the number of HEI participants whose electronic health records capture a patient’s gender identity.

Of the 1,000 hospitals that didn’t actively participate in the HEI but were included based on HRC Foundation research, only 67% have patient non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity, and only 62% were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, in place at 90% of facilities that didn’t actively participate, is the only aspect in which this group comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities. 

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