I Support the Public Option and the C.L.A.S.S. Act Provision


By on Sun, August 23, 2009

Last Friday an LGBT advocacy group for seniors attended a meeting about health care reform held by White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and director of public liaison Tina Tchen to discuss the needs of older Americans.

Karen Taylor, director of advocacy and training for SAGE said one key provision for the aging that’s currently in the health bill is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or the C.L.A.S.S. Act, which is focused on supplying the services that older Americans sometimes need to stay in their homes and their communities for as long as possible. "If you have an older adult who’s living alone and they are facing a manageable but chronic issue, if they do not have a family friend, a daughter, a sibling who lives nearby to help them, then that chronic issue may become far worse and they end up hospitalized," explained Taylor, "which is far more expensive, and nobody wants to end up there." http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid106454.asp

Studies show that LGBT seniors are less likely to access needed health and social services because of their fear of discrimination from health care providers. 

Social isolation has an enormous impact in the health and wellbeing of LGBT seniors.  LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone than their heterosexual counterparts and more than four times as likely to have no adult children.  The informal care giving support we assume is in place for older adults is not there for LGBT seniors.

Barbara Manard a health economist with the American Association of Housing and Services for the Aging, worked with Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s staff to draft the C.L.A.S.S. Act legislation. In a recent edition of the The New York Times "New Old Age" blog Paul Span writes, "Participants would receive daily benefits — money they could use to pay for home care, adult day programs, assisted living or nursing homes — whether they’re elderly or young and disabled." http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/congress-tackles-long-term-care/#more-1523

The C.L.A.S.S. Act provision is a critical component of the health bill for the LGBT community because LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone.