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Internists Offer Recommendations and Statements on How to Achieve Health Equity for LGBT Patients

'ACP's policy position paper aims to eliminate disparities in the quality of or access to health care for members of the LGBT community,' says ACP president

(Washington, May 12, 2015)- Recommendations on how to achieve health care equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients were released today by the American College of Physicians (ACP). In "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Disparities: A Policy Position Paper from the American College of Physicians," ACP calls for comprehensive transgender health care services included in health benefits plans and civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. The paper is published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Evidence suggests that LGBT persons face a common set of challenges within the health care system. These challenges range from access to health care coverage and culturally competent care to state and federal policies that reinforce social stigma, marginalization, or discrimination.

"These policies often keep LGBT persons from accessing health care and are also associated with increased rates of anxiety, suicide, and substance or alcohol abuse. ACP is committed to improving the health of all Americans and opposes discrimination in the delivery of health care services," noted Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, president of ACP. "ACP's policy position paper aims to eliminate disparities in the quality of or access to health care for members of the LGBT community."

ACP's Health and Public Policy Committee reviewed published studies, reports, and surveys on LGBT health care and related health policy to inform its recommendations. Some of ACP's key statements and recommendations are:

  • recommends that gender identity, independent and fundamentally different from sexual orientation, be included as part of nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies.
  • recommends that public and private health benefit plans include comprehensive transgender health care services and provide all covered services to transgender persons as they would other beneficiaries.
  • supports same-sex civil marriage rights and also recommends that the definition of family be inclusive of those who maintain an ongoing emotional relationship with a person, regardless of their legal or biological relationship. As such, patients should be able to determine who may visit and who may act on their behalf during their stay, without stipulation.
  • opposes the use of "conversion," "reorientation," or "reparative" therapy for the treatment of LGBT persons.

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 141,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: David Kinsman, (202) 261-4554, dkinsman@acponline.org