LGBT Data Collection Bill Advances to Governor

September 17, 2013 By Jesse Melgar

ab1208-01We know from various studies that health disparities impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are real, but we cannot work to address those health disparities effectively until we begin collecting data about who we are and what unique health challenges we face. Last week, the California legislature took an important step to help correct this shortfall by advancing Assembly Bill 1208, an LGBT data collection bill authored by Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan and sponsored by Equality California.

The bill, which earned bipartisan support, will result in valuable public health data by adding voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the application Californian’s complete for insurance affordability programs. There is currently no way to gather demographic information about LGBT Californians on these forms.

“As a physician, health services researcher, and advocate for LGBT rights, I have striven to eliminate health disparities and expand access to health care,” said Dr. Pan. “I urge the Governor to sign AB1208 so California will have the data needed to inform efforts to improve access and assure equality in health care for the LGBT community.”

AB 1208 will help California lead the way in answering the national call for more information on disparities in access to health care for the LGBT community.  By including optional questions on the standardized application Californians complete for insurance affordability programs regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, new data will be collected that can help guide efforts to increase health care equality in California and nationally. This bill will also help reduce health disparities by allowing better tracking of populations who are not enrolling in subsidized and low-cost programs and targeting outreach and enrollment to them. If signed by the Governor, the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

On Wednesday, September 18, health advocates including EQCA will hold a press conference at the State Capitol asking Governor Jerry Brown to sign this critical piece of legislation.

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