Two new pieces of legislation were proposed this month that would improve the services available to LGBT older adults nationwide. This legislation would create new offices within the federal government that would be dedicated to LGBT health and policy, increase research on LGBT aging issues, establish new grant programs related to LGBT aging, and recognize LGBT older adults as populations of greatest social need under the Older Americans Act.  

The Elder Pride Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 11th by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). This legislation would:

  • Establish an office of Inclusivity and Sexual Health within the Department of Health and Human Services, including an Assistant Director of LGBTQ+ Policy, to increase access to health care for LGBTQ+ older Americans;
  • Support research on the LGBTQ+ aging population to address the challenges the elder LGBTQ+ community faces, with an emphasis on those in rural areas;
  • Create and administer a grant program to help support organizations that serve older Americans conducting programs that connect LGBTQ+ seniors with their non-LGBTQ+ peers and local LGBTQ+ organizations; and
  • Make grant funding available to organizations to conduct training programs to serve LGBTQ+ seniors and other vulnerable populations.

On the same day, the Inclusive Aging Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). The bipartisan aims to support inclusive aging and sexual health care services for older Americans while specifically addressing the unique needs of LGBT older people. The bill would:

  • Establish the Office of Inclusivity and Sexual Health in the Administration on Aging, which would support inclusive aging and sexual health care services for the older American population, facilitate data collection related to population needs, oversee funding opportunities, and promote policies to address the needs of LGBT seniors;
  • Designate older LGBT Americans as a population of ‘Greatest Social Need’ under the Older Americans Act to help target local services to the needs of LGBT seniors;
  • Reauthorize the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which provides training, support, and resources to providers, LGBT organizations, and LGBT seniors; and
  • Establish a rural grant program designed to fund programs that provide (1) cultural competency training for health care providers, (2) resources on sexual health and aging for senior service providers, and (3) care or services to LGBT and minority seniors.

Both pieces of legislation acknowledge that LGBT older adults, especially those living in rural areas, face unique barriers to healthcare. Additionally, nearly 50% of people living with HIV in the US are over age 50 and the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among folks over 65 is increasing. Yet, the nation currently focuses sex education and sexual health programs to minors. The Elder Pride and Inclusive Aging Acts would build on the Older Americans Act to address these unique needs and challenges.

You can let your members of Congress know that you support these important bills! Especially if you live in Pennsylvania, you can contact Senator Bob Casey (https://www.casey.senate.gov/contact/) to thank him for sponsoring this legislation and for his work advocating for LGBT older adults.

Read more here:

Press Release from Congresswoman Deb Haaland on the Elder Pride Act:

https://haaland.house.gov/media/press-releases/haaland-bonamici-introduce-elder-pride-act

Press Release from Senator Lisa Murkowski on the Inclusive Aging Act:

https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Inclusive%20Aging%20Act%20One%20Pager.pdf

Press Release from SAGE on the Inclusive Aging Act:

https://www.sageusa.org/news-posts/sage-praises-bipartisan-lgbt-aging-bill-introduced-in-congress/