August 20, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
White House to hold LGBT briefing on ‘Obamacare’
Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius speaks before the AIDS 2012 International Conference

Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is set to keynote a White House briefing on health care reform set for Sept. 12. (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

As the administration works to implement health care reform, the White House has scheduled a briefing for LGBT advocates on Sept. 12 to discuss ways “Obamacare” will impact LGBT people, according to an invitation to the event.

The email invitation, which is dated Aug. 20 and signed by LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan, was apparently delivered to leaders within the LGBT community that support President Obama. It says Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will deliver a keynote address at the briefing.

The administration is also set to provide an overview of the Affordable Care Act in addition to talking about key provisions related to the LGBT community and the enrollment effort for health insurance exchanges.

“As you know, many members of the LGBT community face limited access to health care and insurance, and are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy,” the invite states. “The Affordable Care Act directly addresses some of these needs, and the upcoming open enrollment period provides an important opportunity to get folks enrolled — and transform the health and well-being of the LGBT community for generations to come.”

Neither the White House nor the Department of Health & Human Services would immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for confirm on the briefing or answer questions about it. It’s unclear exactly who was invited to the briefing or how many people would attend. It doesn’t appear to be open to the public or the press.

According to the invitation, the administration will also provide a presentation of important new research on how LGBT communities perceive and access health care and suggest messaging strategies for reaching key sub-communities. The briefing is also set to include a panel discussion of best practices by community organizations engaged in LGBT health advocacy as well as breakout sessions to connect local leaders and plan regional enrollment events.

The invitation emphasizes the need of LGBT supporters to educate others on the importance of implementing Obamacare.

At the beginning of next year, the health care exchanges and the individual mandate under the law are scheduled to begin. That’s also the time when insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against or charging higher rates for individuals based on pre-existing medical conditions or gender, which has been interpreted to include protections for LGBT people.

“YOU are critically important to the education and enrollment effort, and this briefing is designed to equip community leaders like you with the tools, information, and resources you need to get involved and help your local communities get access to quality, affordable health care,” the invitation states. “We want your help! We hope you will leave this briefing and return to your community empowered and inspired to partner with us in the months and years ahead.”

The White House is holding this briefing amid a larger public relations push to build support for Obamacare, which is still viewed unfavorably by 54 percent of the American public, according to a poll this month from Rasmussen. Last month, President Obama held an event at the White House and spoke out about the importance of implementing the health care reform.

“We’re going to keep on working to make sure many people around this country who are already paying premiums are getting cheaper prices, that the money is being actually spent on their health care, that you’re not having to worry about the fine print, and that if you don’t have health insurance, you finally are in a position to get some at an affordable price — to give you and your family the kind of security you deserve,” Obama said at the time.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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