Callen-Lorde Advocacy Day in Albany

On Tuesday, February 5th, a team of Callen-Lorde staff and patients traveled to Albany to advocate for LGBTQ health equity and justice. We believe health equity is racial equity and that true liberation will only come when our communities and our families can adequately access culturally competent and comprehensive health care in all forms. As global leaders in LGBTQ healthcare, we provide care to marginalized communities, free of judgement and regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. We believe affordable healthcare is a human right and are dedicated to pushing our agenda to ensure all New Yorker’s have access to high quality health services.

In Albany, we had the opportunity to meet with legislators that represent our clinic locations and patient population to discuss the importance of affordable primary care. This year Callen-Lorde is focusing on a series of budget and legislative priorities that will allow all New Yorker’s to have access to comprehensive healthcare. Our priorities include fighting to expand the New York State Essential Plan which would cover all immigrants in New York regardless of their immigration status and adding to the Uncompensated Care Safety Net Pool, which allows community health centers to offer sliding scales fees to uninsured patients and subsidize those who cannot pay at all. Additionally, we support investing more funding into Hepatitis C outreach, screening and treatment programs so that ultimately we can eliminate the disease. Our full policy agenda for the 2020 fiscal year can be found on our website.

“Often times we see the aftermath of policymaker’s decisions. Going to Albany allowed me to tell my own narrative and discuss future decisions that will impact the patients I work with,” said Bryce Henderson, a case manager on his first advocacy trip. “It was important for me to talk to legislators about the Statewide Healthcare Facility Transformation Program. This funding can assist Callen-Lorde in opening our Brooklyn location, allowing us to open our doors to more LGBTQ patients that otherwise may not be engaged in care.” This program grants primary and behavioral health sites critical funds for capital projects.

AJ Rubin-DeSimone, Manager of the Health Outreach to Teens program, enjoyed hearing Callen-Lorde patients talk to legislators about their stories and the policy issues they cared about. He said, “The LGBTQ patients that we serve are often silenced or not heard by politicians. Providing this advocacy platform for patients to go to the state capitol and talk to their representatives is empowering and transformative. Callen-Lorde does more than provide healthcare, we help foster a resilient community and offer opportunities elevate our patient’s voices into action and progressive change.”

Kim Goode, a Callen-Lorde patient and alumni of our strength and empowerment group said, “This Advocacy Day allowed me to represent our communities at large with knowledge and empowerment that makes me feel tremendously proud. It reminds me that we must be a voice for those who are not able to push against injustice.”

Callen-Lorde has an advocacy team – led by Kimberleigh Smith, Senior Director of Community Health Planning and Policy, and Nala Toussaint. Transgender Health Advocacy Coordinator – made up of staff members from all departments that discuss how we can best support our patients and community. Contact to learn more about our agenda and to get involved.

Callen-Lorde is a member of the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS) and the End the Epidemic (ETE) coalitions. We share their political and budgetary agendas with a queer focus.