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As Healthcare Debate Heats Up in Congress, Here Are Four Terms You Need to Know

Republican Senators are working behind closed doors to fulfill a years-long promise to repeal the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has extended essential, life-saving healthcare coverage to millions of Americans. So it is truly alarming to witness the unprecedented speed and level of secrecy surrounding the GOP’s efforts to remake a system that comprises nearly a sixth of the U.S. economy.

Here’s what’s at stake: 23 million Americans would lose their healthcare by 2026, with 14 million losing coverage as soon as next year if the AHCA becomes law. If Republicans make good on their promise to end the ACA, millions of our nation’s most vulnerable — including low-income people, children, elderly, women and LGBTQ people — would lose the coverage they need to survive.

As the debate heats up in the Senate, here are several issues at the center of congressional deliberations.

Medicaid expansion:

The ACA’s success in covering an additional 22 million Americans was due in large part to the law’s expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid was first created to provide health care to low-income families, pregnant women and those with disabilities. The ACA widened the reach of this program by expanding the eligibility to include those making 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). 

For example: This means that a family of 3 making up to $27,000 a year can qualify for healthcare under Medicaid.  In many states without Medicaid expansion adults without a disability or dependent children are not eligible at all regardless of income. In states like Mississippi that have not adopted Medicaid expansion, families with children are only eligible if their household income doesn’t exceed 22 percent of the FPL — or $4,000 a year for a family of three.

Since it’s creation in 1965, Medicaid has provided millions of Americans, including those who are LGBTQ, with vital access to affordable healthcare, including HIV medication and cancer treatments. Yet, Senate Republicans are discussing how to phase out the crucial program.

Ending Medicaid will not only cause millions to lose access to vital healthcare services, it would also mark the first time ever that the U.S. government rescinded a benefit that is saving millions of lives.

Pre-existing conditions & high risk pools:

Before the ACA was implemented, insurance companies could legally charge higher rates or deny coverage outright to people with pre-existing conditions, including cancer, HIV, asthma, diabetes — even victims of sexual assault. Today, insurance companies can no longer raise rates or deny coverage for people with these types of conditions.

In May, House Republicans passed their own health care bill — known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — which would give states waivers allowing insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more in the private market. To try to mitigate the severe harm of that change, the AHCA would also create federally-funded high-risk pools for those who are unable to purchase insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, reports show that high-risk pools have failed unless funded at much, much higher levels than in the AHCA, leaving millions across the nation vulnerable running out of coverage.

Historically, people living with HIV have had a difficult time obtaining private health insurance and been particularly vulnerable to insurance industry abuses. Stripping these ACA protections would directly result in tens of thousands of LGBTQ people losing access to life-saving treatment.

Health care exchanges & subsidies:

Another pillar of the ACA are the Health Insurance Marketplace — or the marketplace “exchanges” — which is a service available in every state that helps individuals, families, and small businesses shop for and enroll in affordable coverage. The vast majority of enrollees have been able to afford insurance due to subsidies allocated by the federal government. These subsidies are now in the direct crosshairs of Republicans looking to end them.

The subsidies reduce the cost of monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. They are, currently based on a person’s income and have been critical for people accessing insurance through their state programs, especially those not enrolled in an employer provided plan or Medicaid. The GOP plan would drastically change the way these subsidies work — placing them out of reach for so many who have come to rely on them. Republicans want to turn the subsidies into refundable tax credits based mainly on a person’s age.

For example, a person in their 20s would receive a $2,000 tax credit while older enrollees in their 60’s, for example, would get a $4,000 tax credit. Additionally, individuals making less than $30,000 and above $75,000 annually wouldn’t receive any assistance — greatly affecting lower-income people who are the main recipients of the ACA subsidies.

Annual & lifetime caps:

Before President Obama signed the ACA into law, millions of Americans were enrolled in plans that had annual or lifetime coverage caps. Plans generally limited benefits to  around $1 million. The  AHCA passed by House Republicans — and what could possibly be in the Senate version — would once again bring back those lifetime and annual limits.

This provision would have a devastating impact on millions of people, mainly those living with severe or chronic conditions, including HIV and cancer, who typically exceed lifetime and annual limits due to the astronomical cost of receiving treatment.

HRC joined more than 60 organizations to oppose the AHCA and called on Senators to reject this dangerous attempt to undermine the very real gains the LGBTQ community has made under the ACA. Join HRC as we call on Senators to reject this dangerous attempt to undermine healthcare access and preserve the incredible gains the LGBTQ community has made under the Affordable Care Act. All you need to do is text “SAVE ACA” to 30644 and we’ll get you connected.

HRC Rallies at White House on World Refugee Day

To mark World Refugee Day 2017, HRC joined a rally at the White House to send a clear message to the Trump Administration: Refugees are welcome here.

Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, spoke at the rally and told the crowd that our country must continue to accept refugees, no matter why they are persecuted. “Whether it be a gay man  who is fleeing Chechnya because he has been tortured and almost killed for who he loves, or a woman in Pakistan in faces violent backlash after courageously standing up to change her gender marker on her official documents, we must keep our doors open to welcome them because it is who we are as Americans.”

Cobb then introduced that very woman from Pakistan, Martina. She was the first Pakistani person ever to sue and win the right to change their gender marker on their official documents. Despite her win in court, she had to flee Pakistan because of threats to her life.

“It is so important for LGBTQ people around the world that the United States continue to be a safe place where we can run when we face persecution and violence – such as I faced when I finally was allowed to be the woman I truly am,” Martina said. “Without this great country. I would be in jail back at home, or worse.”

When she transitioned, she was told that she was violating religion and her family’s traditions. She began to fear for her life, and though she never wanted to leave her country, the violence and threats became too great.

She urged the crowd to keep fighting and to keep the U.S. open to help the people like her who need the safety and freedom to live their lives as their true selves.

Martina and Cobb also spoke via Facebook Live to mark World Refugee Day.

HRC has been speaking out on behalf of refugees, particularly since Donald Trump came to office, speaking out against his attacks on immigrants and refugees and calling on the U.S. to open its doors to all refugees, particular LGBTQ people who have been threatened abroad.

#AM_Equality Tipsheet: June 21, 2017

HRC CALLS ON TRUMP ADMIN TO WELCOME LGBTQ REFUGEES: HRC joined refugees, faith leaders, legal and security experts and community advocates outside the White House yesterday to honor refugees’ strength and perseverance, speak out against discriminatory policies and call on elected officials to do more in the face of the largest refugee crisis in recorded history. LGBTQ people have long faced serious persecution by governments, paramilitary organizations and their own families in the Middle East, North Africa and, most recently, in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender men and women, have been publicly identified as targets for violence. In these uncertain times, we must do more to protect refugees in the U.S. and around the world. We must speak up and stand up. #RefugeesWelcome #WorldRefugeeDay

● HRC Global Director Ty Cobb spoke with Martina, a member of the LGBTQ community in Pakistan who fled to the U.S. after she received death threats at home for changing her gender marker on her official documents. Watch here.

● Chutzpah (n): Shameless audacity; impudence. (Orig. Hebrew) As in, “The Trump Administration showed real chutzpah by purporting to support refugees while simultaneously tearing down the very programs that are meant to help them.” Now, read Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on World Refugee Day here.

THE NYTIMES TAKES A DEEPER DIVE INTO EUROPEAN COURT RULING RUSSIA “GAY PROPAGANDA” ANTI-LGBTQ LAW ILLEGAL:  Sewell Chan (@sewellchan) reports that “Russia’s prohibition of what it considers the promotion of homosexuality is discriminatory and violates freedom of expression,” adding that the decision by Europe’s top human rights court is a “strong rejection of laws that rights groups say have been routinely used as cover for abuse and violence.” Read the full piece at the New York Times.

● The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports today that Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow’s organization supported Vladimir Putin’s dangerous “gay propaganda” ban. Sekulow’s anti-LGBTQ group provided money and support to the suppression effort, which, coupled with legislation that significantly limits foreign funding of non-profit groups, has crippled LGBTQ activists’ efforts, HRC Global Director Ty Cobb tells Woodruff. Read Woodruff’s (@woodruffbets) piece at The Daily Beast.

● A look inside the prison where gay men were tortured in Chechnya, from HBO’s Vice News

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING WEDNESDAY: Jeffrey Marsh (@TheJeffreyMarsh), a genderfluid social media powerhouse and LGBTQ advocate, gave an inspiring TEDx Talk at Connecticut College recently, sharing the importance of living authentically, practicing self care and working for the world you want to see. Watch here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Asn2axwPz2g]

THIRTEEN (OF THE MANY) REASONS TRUMP IS BAD FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY: Since the moment he walked into the White House, Donald Trump has attacked the progress made toward full equality for the LGBTQ community, and undermined the rights of countless Americans and members of the global LGBTQ community. Check out “13 Ways Trump’s Been Terrible for LGBTQ People During His First Five Months” at Upworthy.

HRC FOUNDATION HOSTS EDUCATORS FOR LGBTQ-INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM TRAINING: The Welcoming Schools National Facilitator Certification Training this week helps educators create respectful and LGBTQ-supportive elementary schools, prevent bias-based bullying and support transgender and non-binary students. More from HRC.

POWERFUL — WATCH THIS 12-YEAR-OLD COME OUT TO HER MORMON CHURCH: Savannah powerfully spoke her truth to her Mormon congregation in Utah, testifying, “[God] did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay… I hope some day to go on dates, to go to school dances, to hold hands and to go off to college… I know I can have all of these things as a lesbian and be happy.” More from CNN.

FORMER PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER COMES OUT, REVEALS HE PLANNED TO COMMIT SUICIDE AFTER HIS CAREER: In an interview with Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler (@CydZeigler), Ryan O’Callaghan talks about growing up and hearing the word “fag” in his conservative hometown, using football to hide his identity – including as a tackle for the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs – and pulling back from the brink of suicide with the help of the Chiefs’ general manager at the time, Scott Pioli. Read the riveting piece at Outsports.

● Gay teen finds acceptance on the football field: Austin Hodges found a family he didn’t expect when he came out to his football team. More from OutSports.

CONFIRMATION OF SERBIA’S FIRST GAY PREMIER THROWN INTO DOUBT: Some Members of Parliament say they will vote against Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic due to her sexual orientation. She would be the first gay and female Prime Minister in the country’s history. More from NBC.

USE THIS ON YOUR NEXT TRIP TO NYC: The NYC LGBT Historical Project highlights LGBTQ historical sites throughout the city — from Stonewall to Riis Beach, and throughout the boroughs. More from The New York Times.

READING RAINBOW

The Huffington Post explores the challenges of being an LGBTQ person in the tech industry; BuzzFeed talks to a couple who recreated a photo they took at the 1993 March on Washington while at the 2017 Equality March

Have news? Send us your news and tips at AMEquality@hrc.org. Click here to subscribe to #AM_Equality and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!

Ways to Celebrate Pride Across Social Media

Post submitted with contributions from HRC Digital Media Intern Grace Smith

With only ten days left of National LGBTQ Pride Month, it’s not too celebrate #Pride2017 on social media. In honor of pride, several social media platforms have released new ways to participate in the celebration through various hashtags, effects and more. Check out HRC’s guide on some of the best ways to get involved and show your support.

Filters and Frames

Facebook and Instagram have added new rainbow frames as well as stickers, effects and rainbow paint brushes to liven up your photos with various rainbow accessories. Snapchat has a new rainbow brush as well as many stickers and filters. In the Facebook camera, you can try even try on different masks.

Additionally, HRC has a special Facebook profile frame that is a limited-time offer for our Summer of Action.

Hashtags

Use the hashtags #PrideIsHappening, #Pride2017 and #LoveIsLove in one of fifteen languages to unlock special Pride emojis on Twitter. When you use those hashtags within your broadcast title, you can unlock a custom Periscope heart. Tumblr launched its #TumblrPride campaign and is encouraging users to share their stories and participate in 30 days of learning and growth.

Monuments

Follow the #KindComments Movement on Instagram updates to check out walls in major cities across America turning rainbow for Pride month.

Action

By liking the LGBTQ Facebook page, you can use the new rainbow reaction on Facebook to show pride in your posts and responses.

Search “Pride” on Pinterest to unlock rainbow searches. special guides to Pride this month, and Pride collections.

To LGBTQ Refugees & Asylum Seekers: The U.S. Should Welcome You

On World Refugee Day, HRC honors the strength, courage and contributions made by countless refugees in the U.S. and around the world. Today we recognize all refugees, including LGBTQ refugees who are seeking refuge from persecution and violence they face in their home countries.

These perilous times have been compounded by the rise of the Islamic State, government regimes and other anti-LGBTQ organizations looking to hamper or end any human rights progress. Concerns continue to mount for those looking for safety in the U.S. only to have their dreams deferred by President Trump and his administration’s discriminatory policies.

Since the day he was sworn into office, Trump has been adamant in issuing directives that would close our borders and turn away those at most risk of facing real harm in their home countries. However, his travel ban, which blocked refugees and travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, has stalled in the courts. Just recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to keep Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban on hold — another resounding defeat by the federal courts in recent weeks.

While the latest developments signal a positive trend that the U.S. will not tolerate discrimination based on religious identity, there are still far too many many countries that will condemn, persecute, and even execute LGBTQ people just because of who they are.

In Chechnya, dozens of gay and bisexual men have been detained, beaten and tortured, yet local authorities have refused to acknowledge the matter. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he hadn’t raised the issue of the Chechen atrocities with the Russians at all. HRC has called on the U.S. government to condemn these crimes and grant victims refuge in the U.S. Unfortunately, only a handful of countries have provided a safe haven for them.

Chechnya isn’t an isolated event, since across the globe — from the Middle East, to Libya and Sub-Saharan African — anti-LGBTQ violence is commonplace. This year, two Iraqi soldiers spoke before HRC’s fourth Annual Time To THRIVE Conference describing their heroic story of falling in love in the Middle East, only to then spend years fleeing and fighting to find a place to call home together.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KMDaqNIzTw]

We face the largest refugee crisis in history, with roughly 65 million people displaced globally — including tens of thousands of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers — we must demand our elected officials do more to face this growing crisis. Today, and everyday, HRC and dozens of human rights organizations will speak up and stand up against discriminatory policies wherever they appear — at home and abroad.

#AM_Equality Tipsheet: June 20, 2017

TODAY — ALL EYES ARE ON GEORGIA’S SPECIAL ELECTION: Today, HRC-endorsed Jon Ossoff will face anti-LGBTQ Karen Handel in a runoff election for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District seat. During her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Handel opposed marriage equality, civil unions, domestic partnership benefits and allowing same-sex couples to adopt, and was caught on camera saying that same-sex parents aren’t as legitimate as different-sex parents. Watch the video here.

ALSO TODAY – HRC TO RALLY AT WHITE HOUSE FOR WORLD REFUGEE DAY: HRC will join refugees, faith leaders, legal and security experts and community advocates to honor refugees’ strength and perseverance, speak out against discriminatory policies and call on elected officials to do more in the face of the largest refugee crisis in recorded history. The action comes just days after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously to prevent the implementation of President Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban. It marked the second time a federal court has halted his discriminatory executive order. Please contact press@hrc.org for more details. More from HRC.

CONGRESS CALLS ON INDONESIAN AMB. TO STOP ANTI-LGBTQ DISCRIMINATION: In response to numerous reports of the arrests of men for same-sex sexual activity — and the public caning of two of them — 37 members of Congress sent a letter to the Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S. calling on him to urge the government to investigate and end this discrimination, as well as discrimination against women and religious minorities. “The horrific violence targeting LGBTQ people in Indonesia is part of a troubling yet growing trend driven by hate and fear around the world, including in places like Chechnya, Bangladesh, and elsewhere,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “With an absence of action from the Trump administration on these human rights abuses, we are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and the other 36 members in calling for an end to this violence and putting Indonesia officials on notice that the eyes of the world are closely watching.” More from Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.

USAID NOMINEE PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR LGBTQ HUMAN RIGHTS: In a hearing before a U.S. Senate committee, Ambassador Mark Green, the nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), pledged that, if confirmed, he would work to ensure that USAID’s programming reaches vulnerable LGBTQ people around the world. Ambassador Green (not to be confused with the anti-LGBTQ Mark Green who was forced to withdraw his nomination as Army Secretary) was nominated to lead USAID, America’s largest provider of global development assistance, investing nearly $16 billion in foreign aid each year in more than 100 countries. More from HRC.

TUESDAY TWEET: When Nikos Giannopoulos was invited to the White House after being named Rhode Island’s Teacher of the Year, he knew he wanted to show his LGBTQ pride — as he does every day in the classroom. The now-viral photo of the teacher, posing with Donald and Melania Trump, shows Giannopoulos with a lace fan and rainbow ribbon on his lapel. “The entire day I was thinking about what it means to be in the White House and in the Oval Office,” he said. “What it represents to be an openly gay person and a queer LGBT person in the White House.” More from The Washington Post and NPR.

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS RULES RUSSIA’S ANTI-LGBTQ ‘PROPAGANDA’ LAW IS DISCRIMINATORY: In 2013, Russia’s Federal Assembly passed a law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” which was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. Under the guise of protecting children from “homosexual propaganda,” the law imposes fines or jail time to citizens who disseminate information that may cause a “distorted understanding” that LGBTQ and heterosexual relationships are “socially equivalent.” Russia is only one of three countries to have such a law. More from The Guardian.

OREGON WILL NOW ALLOW THIRD GENDER OPTION ON DRIVER’S LICENSES: In a national first, Oregon will allow its residents to use “X” as their gender marker on driver’s licenses — in recognition of non-binary identities. Oregon has also allowed two people to legally change their gender to agender and nonbinary. More from NBC.

● For many trans people, “ID anxiety” can happen daily — worrying about how police, TSA agents, government officials or even bartenders may react to an ID that lists a gender inconsistent with the person’s gender identity. More from TIME.

THE COMPANY THEY KEEP — TRUMP’S DEFENSE ATTORNEY FIGHTS FOR ANTI-LGBTQ EXTREMISTS: Jay Sekulow, who Trump hired following allegations of obstruction of justice, has said that school policies protecting LGBTQ students “go too far.” His organization wrote an amicus brief that said “men who by word or deed condone homoseoxuality cannot, therefore, be good men.” He testified in support of the Defense of Marriage Act… Need we go on? More from Newsweek.

CLAPBACK — LAVERNE COX ON WHY TRUMP HASN’T RECOGNIZED LGBTQ PRIDE MONTH: When asked while on The View, the transgender actress and advocate said “Well, he’s really busy… he’s under investigation now so…” More from The View.

ANTI-LGBTQ DAVID CLARKE WITHDRAWS FROM CONSIDERATION FOR DHS JOB: The Milwaukee County sheriff was offered the position of Assistant Secretary for the Office of Partnership and Engagement at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). HRC strongly opposed Clarke’s appointment to this position. More on Clarke’s extensive anti-LGBTQ record from HRC and The Washington Post.

HIV ADVOCATE TURNS TRAGEDY INTO ACTION: After her father died from AIDS-related complications, Amanda Keller decided to devote her life to achieving an HIV-free generation. Working in Alabama, she has become a known advocate for the local LGBTQ community. More from The Daily Beast.

YES — THIS SCHOOL ACTUALLY GETS TAXPAYER FUNDING: The Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington, Indiana, reserves the right to deny admission to LGBTQ students, and yet receives over $665,000 in state funds — and under school voucher-expanding proposals being considered by Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, could get more. More from IndyStar.

GERMANY OPENS RECONCILING MOSQUE: The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque will welcome all Muslims, no matter their gender, religious sect or sexual orientation. More from The Associated Press.

READING RAINBOW

The New York Times interviews New York City Pride Grand Marshall Geng Le; ABC 10 explores Sacramento’s LGBTQ history; Advocate shares Malta’s journey toward LGBTQ equality;

Have news? Send us your news and tips at AMEquality@hrc.org. Click here to subscribe to #AM_Equality and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!