Legislative Updates: 115th Congress
Rep. Deutch Reintroduces Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act
Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Chair of the LGBT Aging Task Force of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, joined Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-13) to introduce legislation that aims to improve the Older Americans Act (OAA) by better serving LGBT elders and increasing access to culturally competent services and support programs.
This bill is named to honor LGBT activists Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz.
LGBT older adults face significant barriers and disparities, including fewer support services, higher poverty rates, more dangerous social isolation, and inadequate access to health care services compared to the rest of older Americans. Because of these profound challenges, LGBT older adults require community-specific services that are scarce and severely underfunded in every part of the country. The Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act will decrease the isolation faced by vulnerable and disadvantaged LGBT older adults, improve their health, and increase their access to culturally competent services and supports. The legislation permanently establishes the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the country’s first and only resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT seniors. Finally, the legislation also addresses the lack of accurate information on LGBT seniors by instructing the Assistant Secretary of Aging to collect data on LGBT older adults to determine the needs of the population.
“When Congress passed the Older Americans Act, it was intended to help protect our seniors and ensure their access to essential health services,” said Congressman Deutch. “LGBT seniors are at even greater risk of discrimination. They face immense obstacles in their twilight years, like higher rates of poverty and social isolation. I’m especially proud to introduce this bill, named in honor of Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz, a South Florida couple leading the charge for LGBT seniors’ rights.”
The bill is endorsed by SAGE USA, National Center for Transgender Equality, and National LGBTQ Task Force.
The text of H.R. 4222 is available here. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).