HRC releases Healthcare Equality Index for 2019

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.

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Federal judge overturns Wisc. Medicaid ban on paying for transition care

MADISON, Wisc. — A judge ruled on Friday that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program can’t deny treatment for gender-confirmation surgeries and other transition related care. On Monday, Courthouse News Service reported that against the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS, was filed by Cody Flack of Green Bay and Sara Ann Makenzie of Baraboo back in April 2018. The plaintiffs challenged a 1997 amendment to state Medicaid regulations that excluded coverage for “drugs, including hormone therapy, associated with transsexual surgery,” deeming them “medically unnecessary.”

From Courthouse News Service:
Flack, a transgender man, and Makenzie, a transgender woman, both suffer from severe gender dysphoria. They argued that the exclusion violates the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid Act and the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

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Illinois Insurance Department joins others states opposing attacks on trans healthcare

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Insurance has joined other state insurance departments in opposing proposed changes to rules that protect healthcare access for transgender people. Illinois Insurance Director Robert Muriel joined 17 other insurance commissioners in signing a letter voicing their opposition to the Trump administration’s move last week. “Illinois is committed to protecting consumers and fostering an inclusive insurance marketplace. No one should be discriminated against, especially when it comes to access to healthcare,” Muriel said in a press release. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 23% of transgender people avoided going to the doctor when sick or injured out of fear of discrimination in the past year and 33% of transgender people who did see a health care provider in the past year were harassed, denied care, or even assaulted.

CU at Zero conducting trans health survey

CHAMPAIGN — CU at Zero is conducting a transgender health survey of residents in Champaign County. The organizations said that the anonymous survey will identify key interests of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the county. The survey results will be used to develop action plans to better serve the community. You can take the survey at https://qtrial2019q2az1.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0ceHfBZBco8rVbf. Please be sure to share the link for the survey.

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Prtizker signs Youth PrEP Bill into law

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Youth PrEP Bill into law on Wednesday. The new law allows Illinois youth 12 years old and older to obtain preventative health care services for STDs or substance use disorder without getting parental permission, including pre-exposure prophylaxis PrEP). 

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago) in the House and State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) in the Senate. and supported by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “Young people don’t wait to have sex until they’re 18, and HIV doesn’t wait either. This legislation will help ensure young people under the age of 18 have easy access to an incredibly effective and safe HIV prevention tool,” said Jim Pickett, AFC’s Senior Director of Prevention Advocacy and Gay Men’s Health, in a statement on Wednesday.

Howard Brown, nurses union reach tentative agreement

CHICAGO — Howard Brown Health has reached a tentative agreement with the Illinois Nurses Association, the health provider announced Tuesday. Howard Brown, the largest LGBTQ health provider in Chicago, recognized the nurses’ union in September 2018. Contract negotiations have been going on since then. “On behalf of our patients and providers who depend on a collaborative care team, I am elated we have brokered a tentative agreement with our valued nursing staff,” said Dr. Magda Houlberg, Chief Clinical Officer for Howard Brown . “Much like the rest of the workforce, nurses demonstrate a passion for patient-centered care and deep dedication to the organization’s mission.

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Chicago youth survey finds PrEP use doesn’t lead to more STIs

MEXICO CITY — A survey of young gay and bisexual men and transgender women in Chicago, a portion of whom were on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has found no direct relationship between starting PrEP and any increase in subsequent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). AIDSmap reported that the survey did find that people had more condomless sex, but it did not lead to more STIs. From AIDSmap:
Ethan Morgan of Chicago’s Northwestern University and Center for AIDS Research told the 10th International AIDS Society Conference in HIV Science (IAS 2019) is Mexico City that data were collected as part of RADAR, a cohort study of young men who have sex with men and transgender women aged between 16 and 29. 

A total of 744 young people who attended six or more study visits were followed out of a total cohort of 1100. During the study period, a third of participants started PrEP (32.9%). (The fact that this was only 21% in the pre-conference abstract submitted a few months ago shows evidence of a rapid expansion in PrEP use.) About a third were also diagnosed with a rectal STI: 17% with rectal gonorrhoea and 23% with rectal chlamydia (some with both).