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If Obama Leaves the Gays Out of Health Care, Did He Make Up Ground in the Federal Budget?

We’re not quite ready to call Barack Obama‘s personal stab at health care reform a failure, because even we recognize it’s too early to tell. But the bad news is that the White House’s brand of merging the House and Senate’s bills leaves out all those pro-gay provisions that Rep. Tammy Baldwin helped insert. So if she’s not sounding the alarm, should we?

Hah. As if we take cues on whether to be concerned from politicians.

That Obama didn’t include the pro-gay elements comes on the heels of the Senate also not picking them up from the House bill. Which should be alarming.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), the openly gay member of Congress who was a leader in adding pro-gay provisions to the House health reform bill, says she hasn’t given up hope. She called President Obama’s proposal Monday ”an important step forward” that ”helps to regain our momentum” on health care reform efforts.

But, she added, ”it is not the final word.”

[…] ”The President’s proposal assumes the base Senate bill,” said Shin Inouye, a spokesman for the White House with LGBT media. But Inouye pointed out that the president’s proposal does include ”data collection.”

The ”data collection” mentioned in the House bill called for the establishment of an office of Assistant Secretary for Health Information to promote the collection of data about ”sexual orientation” and ”gender identity” (along with a great many other categories) to help identify health issues and the need for programs. The proposal posted by the White House Monday calls for improved ”data collection and analysis, facilitates better data sharing, and requires the development of standards for the collection of data regarding the nation’s health and the performance of the nation’s health care, including health disparities.”

Ronald Johnson, deputy director of the AIDS Action Council, said he is concerned that some aspects of the House bill that were favorable to the LGBT communities will be left out but that the proposal is still ”a moving ball.”

So is anything good for the gays coming out of the White House? You might be able to point to the president’s version of the annual federal spending bill. There, “one of the ‘Fact Sheets’ on key issues included with the president’s budget is ‘Expanding Opportunities for the LGBT Community.’ … To ‘support the needs of the LGBT community,’ Obama’s budget proposes to: Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Efforts; Support Federal Employee Domestic Partner Benefits; Expand and Focus HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care, and Prevention Activities; Execute a National AIDS Awareness Campaign; Support a Fair and Accurate 2010 Census.” (Specifics on those initiatives can be read here.)

With Democrats and Republicans squabbling over whatever is left of the effort to reform health care, you can rest assured the most “controversial” line items are going to be dropped into a lowest common denominator, neutered bill.

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