HHS recommends ways to improve LGBT health

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said Friday that it plans to gather better health data on gay and transgender Americans while giving states guidance on how to help them take advantage of welfare programs and Medicaid.

The recommendations follow an Institute of Medicine report released Thursday that said researchers should better engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in health studies because of an existing dearth of health data on those populations. President Obama requested that HHS provide the recommendations when he ordered the department last April to issue regulations that prevent hospitals from denying visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.

Friday's recommendations were immediately embraced by advocates.

"Once again, Secretary Sebelius has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to addressing the health needs of LGBT people," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "The discrimination and inequality our community faces in healthcare is substantial, and there is so much more that must to be done, but today's recommendations — alongside the research roadmap provided in the IOM report — bring us closer to eliminating the barriers that harm the health and well-being of LGBT people and their families."