Out2Enroll has launched a new coalition to encourage LGBT enrollment in Obamacare.

Out2Enroll Launches LGBT Coalition to Promote Obamacare Under Trump

BY CHRIS JOHNSON, WASHINGTON BLADE

With President Trump taking action seen to undermine Obamacare -- such as shortening the window of time for new insurance enrollments -- a new LGBT coalition of more than 60 groups is launching to promote insurance options under the law.

Leading the coalition is Out2Enroll, a joint project of the Center for American Progress, the Sellers Dorsey Foundation and the Federal Agencies Project that seeks to enroll LGBT people in insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Gautam Raghavan, a member of Out2Enroll and White House LGBT liaison during the Obama administration, said in a statement the perils facing Obamacare under Trump makes the coalition's efforts all the more important.

"National, state, and local partnership has never been more important to raise awareness about health insurance for LGBTQ people nationwide," Raghavan said. "If the Trump Administration won't get the word out, then we will -- online through social media and paid ads, in-person at LGBTQ community centers and events and everywhere else that we can. It's all hands on deck this year and we need to make sure everyone knows their options and their rights."

Founded in 2013, Out2Enroll for years has undertaken efforts to encourage LGBT people to enroll in insurance programs, taking on the mission under the assumption increased enrollments would lead to lower premiums and deductibles for everyone obtaining health coverage.

Those efforts may have paid off. According to a March report from the Center for American Progress, the rate of low- and middle-income LGBT people who are uninsured has dropped by 35 percent since before the Affordable Care Act's coverage reforms took effect in 2013.

Out2Enroll co-founder Katie Keith cited that statistic in a statement promoting the importance of the Affordable Care Act for LGBT people.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for low- and middle-income LGBTQ people has dropped by an overwhelming 35 percent since 2013," Keith said. "That means more LGBTQ people have access to medically necessary services they need, from life-saving HIV drugs to gender affirming health care."

But the work may be cut out for the new Out2Enroll coalition. As the Republican Congress has sought (unsuccessfully) to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act legislatively, Trump has taken actions his critics say effectively amounts to sabotage of the new law.

For starters, the Trump administration has limited the window for new enrollments to between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 -- a reduction from 90 days to only 45 days -- and refused to fund education efforts to promote awareness of the enrollment period.

Defenders of Obamacare also cried foul when Trump signed an executive order allowing individuals opt out of Obamacare and purchase skimpier health plans, thereby rising insurance costs for everyone else, and withholding cost-sharing reduction payments to keep premiums down.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement the Trump administration is "doing everything it can to make it far more difficult for people without health insurance to get health care."

"Even though we're under attack, we've got to fight and educate people," Keisling said. "LGBTQ people should still expect to be treated fairly and protected from discrimination in health insurance and health care -- and transgender people should make sure they enroll in the health insurance they need for 2018."

Key members in the new coalition include CenterLink's Center Action Network, Young Invincibles, The Health Initiative, Equality Texas as well as state and local LGBT organizations in 28 states.

David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a statement health care "is a vital aspect to sustaining the overall wellness of any community."

"Last year, 8 out of 10 applicants received a discount on their premiums and most found insurance for $50 to $100 per month," Johns said. "The ACA has made significant progress in reducing the uninsured rate of among the African American community, the LGBTQ community and among the entire American population."

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.
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