Brooke Baxa – Photo: Human Rights Campaign, via YouTube.
The Human Rights Campaign has released a video highlighting the important role that Planned Parenthood plays in providing culturally competent health care to the LGBTQ community.
The video, which was launched Friday, is in response to a provision in the Senate version of a Republican-led health care reform effort that would prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid dollars. Because Senate Republicans plan on using reconciliation to pass the bill, the defunding of Planned Parenthood would only last one fiscal year, as opposed to a permanent ban. But the damage — likely forcing several Planned Parenthood clinics to close — would be done by the time the prohibition expired.
Brooke Baxa, a 22-year old non-binary transgender healthcare advocate, is featured in the video explaining how they were able to get medical treatment through Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Denver, Colo. Baxa says they first met other transgender people living authentically through a Planned Parenthood youth conference, which aided them in coming out as transgender and non-binary.
In the fall of 2015, after seeking medical care from Planned Parenthood, Baxa began taking hormones, including testosterone, to help with their transition. Baxa also discovered that Planned Parenthood was well-versed in providing culturally competent health care to LGBTQ patients.
“I grew up in rural Nebraska, and there isn’t a lot of access to inclusive health care here, especially in regard to being LGBT. There’s not a lot of resources for us here,” Baxa says. “What I discovered from moving to Colorado and being a low-income person who needed healthcare, I was able to go to Planned Parenthood and receive care.”
Because of provisions the Affordable Care Act allowing youth to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, Baxa is still able to receive insurance coverage, which covers their hormone treatments. But Baxa remains passionate about ensuring that other LGBTQ people who are less fortunate are able to access medically necessary care.
“For some, covering hormones and hormone replacement therapy is seen as a luxury. But for the vast majority of transgender patients, being on hormones and receiving that care is lifesaving,” Baxa says. “You shouldn’t have to go bankrupt just to get the medication you need to be who you are.”
The Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood will be holding events on social media highlighting the symbiotic relationship between Planned Parenthood and the LGBTQ community, and encourage people to protest the defunding of Planned Parenthood. The organizations will also be alerting people to the dangers posed to the LGBTQ community and others by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides in terms of access to coverage for medically necessary treatment.
David Stacy, HRC’s director of government affairs, notes that the Affordable Care Act took significant steps to connect LGBTQ people, particularly those who are low-income, with health insurance coverage through the expansion of state Medicaid programs. Provisions in the ACA that prohibited discrimination against transgender people and barred insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions also helped significant numbers of LGBTQ people obtain access to health care — reducing the disparities in coverage between the LGBTQ community and the broader public.
“The rollback of the Medicaid expansion and the cuts to Medicaid that are in both the House and Senate bill would be absolutely devastating to people living with HIV,” says Stacy, detailing the numerous ways that a repeal of the ACA would effect the LGBTQ community. “The same goes for transgender people who are poorer than average because of discrimination and challenges in employment. So transgender people’s health continues to be a challenge, but the ACA has helped increase insurance coverage for those folks, and that’s really critical.”
Baxa says the transgender community is particularly concerned about the reduction of services that could result if Planned Parenthood loses out on Medicaid dollars, which could impact whether clinics offer hormone replacement therapy or other treatments, not to mention preventative care and family planning services that would also be endangered by such cuts.
With respect to the possibility of repealing the ACA, Baxa says getting treatments covered by insurance is always a concern, particularly for the trans community.
“Even by today’s standards, where we think that most of these treatments are covered by insurance, I’ve seen, in the last few months, people trying to get gender-confirming surgeries and being denied coverage when they have the same insurance that someone was approved for less than a year ago,” says Baxa.
“As I look to the future and what my medical future looks like, it is always a concern that our coverage or our care in general is on the chopping block.”
See HRC’s video featuring Brooke Baxa below: