LGBT advocates say the move illustrates the Trump Administration's attempt to erase elderly LGBT Americans, making it impossible to assess the extent older adults are receiving federally-funded services, including home-delivered meals, family caregiver support, and transportation.
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The US Department of Health and Human Services has eliminated questions about LGBT people on two key national surveys on the elderly and the disabled, the Center for American Progress reports.
One of the surveys affected is The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, an annual survey that gathers information on how well the Older Americans Act serves older adults. Policymakers and organizations heavily rely on this data to determine whether or not individuals need services like home-delivered meals, caregiver support, and transportation. Policymakers and advocates also rely on this data to ensure OAA programs are meeting their goals without leaving anyone out. While the survey has addressed sexual orientation since 2014, with the proposed directive, the 2017 survey would no longer include a question regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. The other survey, the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, also removes questions relating to identity.
Without these questions, it is nearly impossible to determine if public services adequately meet the needs of these marginalized communities.
While LGBTQ Americans already experience unequal access to housing, healthcare, and employment, the HHS' proposed actions specifically target those who often rely on safety net programs for survival. According to Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders (SAGE), the more than three million LGBT American seniors often confront severe challenges like intense social isolation and are "twice as likely to live alone, twice as likely to be single...[three to four] times less likely to have children to help care for them in their later years, [are often] estranged from their families of origin as a result of historical bias...[and] are more likely to live in poverty than older Americans in general."
"Caring about our LGBT elders means making sure they have access to publicly-funded senior services, which can be literally life-saving," said Michael Adams, Chief Executive Officer of SAGE says in the release. "Now, it appears that the Trump Administration wants to make believe LGBT older people don't exist, by erasing them from this critically important survey. We insist that this decision be reversed and that the federal government commit to serving all elders in need, including those who are LGBT."
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