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Baldwin says LGBTQ+ data bill critical to closing mental healthcare access gaps

14 Jun 2023 8:43 AM | Maggie Gruennert (Administrator)

Wisconsin Health News; June 13, 2023

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., introduced legislation last week that would require federal surveys to collect information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Baldwin said the measure could prove critical in closing mental healthcare access gaps facing LGBTQ+ populations, who have disproportionate rates of self-harm and suicide. 

“It’s hard to claim with great reliability how much greater risk gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender children and adults are at risk for suicide,” she said at Politico’s healthcare summit last week. “It is really important that we get that data because it helps us make our arguments for greater resources and greater services.”

Baldwin touched on other healthcare topics at the summit too. While pleased the U.S. didn’t default thanks to a deal raising the debt-ceiling, she is concerned about its spending constraints. The new law provides “arguably level funding” for the next two years, and costs are set to rise, Baldwin noted. 

“We are experiencing, as a nation, a mental health crisis,” she said. “Whether it's our ability to close healthcare disparities or fund basic research in cancer and Alzheimer's, I’m concerned about how we are going to rise to the challenges."

She noted lawmakers are discussing supplemental funding.

Baldwin also said filibuster reform is a “near-term goal,” saying legislation that would guarantee access to abortion would pass if it didn’t need to clear a 60-vote threshold. 

“We have half the nation with fewer rights than their parents and grandparents had,” she said. “We have to have the goal of having sufficient votes in the United States Senate to reform the filibuster, followed on by passing this legislation.”

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