The HRC Foundation released its 12th annual Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), which scores health care facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.
A record 680 health care facilities actively participated in this year’s survey, and, even as Trump-Pence continue their assault on LGBTQ-inclusive health care, 406 of them received HRC’s coveted “Leader in LGBTQ Health Care Equality” designation after earning a top score of 100. In addition, the HRC Foundation proactively researched key policies at 1,000 non-participating hospitals across the nation.
The 12th edition of the HEI assesses participants on four criteria: Non-Discrimination and Staff Training, Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies, and Patient and Community Engagement.
In Texas, only six facilities received the “Leader in LGBTQ Health Care Equality” designation. This compared to the top three states — California with 81 facilities, New York with 74 facilities and neighboring New Jersey with 25 facilities. North Carolina stood out in the South region with 24 facilities earning the top scores.
In Austin, the People’s Community Clinic was the only facility to earned the top score of 100. “At People’s Community Clinic, we not only believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, we make a real effort to ensure that our patients—especially those who identify as LGBTQ—feel welcome,” says the clinic in a Facebook post. This was People’s Community Clinic’s first year on HRC’s HEI.
The only other Austin facility to be rated this year was the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department’s RBJ Health Center. This year, as it did the previous two years, it scored an 80 on the index. The last time the center qualified for the “Leader in LGBTQ Health Care Equality” designation was in 2016.
Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio earned the top score for its fourth year in a row. “Our mission statement is serving humanity to honor God by providing exceptional and cost effective health care accessible to all. To the staff at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital this means providing the very best for every patient regardless of their background and we’re very proud of the HEI leader designation which shows our sensitivity, knowledge and commitment to the needs of LGBT patients and community,” said Greg Seiler, CEO at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital.
The remaining four facilities in Texas were all part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA El Paso Health Care System in El Paso, the VA Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center in Houston, the VA South Texas Health Care System in San Antonio and the VA Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple all earned the “Leader in LGBTQ Health Care Equality” designation with scores of 100.
The most improvement came from the VA El Paso Health Care System which went from a score of 35 in the 2017 to a score of 85 in the 2018 index, to a perfect score of 100 this year. The VA Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple went from a score of 65 in 2017 to an 85 in 2018 and a 100 this year. This is Houston’s VA Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center’s second year earning a score of 100 and the VA South Texas Health Care System in San Antonio’s third year.
The release of the 2019 HEI comes as the comment period closes on a regulation proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would strip away explicit health care protections on the basis of gender identity, effectively targeting transgender and gender non-conforming people’s access to critical care. Under the Obama administration, these landmark protections were added under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the first time sex was covered as a protected characteristic in health care.
“As the Trump-Pence administration continues to attack the most fundamental rights of LGBTQ people, including rolling back non-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act and promoting a license to discriminate in health care, it is more important than ever that health care institutions stand with the LGBTQ community,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “The health care facilities that participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index are making clear that they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients. Going beyond inclusive non-discrimination policies, these health care facilities are adopting best practices in the areas of LGBTQ patient care and support, employee policies and benefits, and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. We commend all of the HEI participants for their commitment to providing inclusive care for all.”
In the 2019 report, an impressive 406 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 148 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 81% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.
The remarkable progress reflected in the 2019 HEI includes:
- Over half of HEI participants now have written gender transition guidelines;
- 75% of hospitals surveyed offer trans-inclusive benefits — an impressive eight percentage point increase over last year, and numbers that bring them on par with their corporate counterparts, as measured by HRC’s 2019 CEI;
- A 35% increase in training hours recorded — clocking in at more than 94,000 hours of LGBTQ care training provided;
- A 60% increase in the number of HEI participants whose electronic health records capture a patient’s sexual orientation, and a 40% increase in the number of HEI participants whose electronic health records capture a patient’s gender identity.
Of the 1,000 hospitals that didn’t actively participate in the HEI but were included based on HRC Foundation research, only 67% have patient non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity, and only 62% were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, in place at 90% of facilities that didn’t actively participate, is the only aspect in which this group comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.