DENVER — Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law HB22-1157 on Thursday. The bill requires all entities that report data to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to collect and report demographic data, including sexual orientation, gender identity, status disability, race and ethnicity.
Prior to this law, the CDPHE had no legal obligation to collect data on a number of Colorado communities that have historically been underfunded, underserved, and faced disproportionate health impacts.
Meeting the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradoans that emerged early in the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted for Out Boulder County, a nonprofit organization that provides services, programs, and a support for LGBTQ people in Boulder County and beyond, the difficulty of responding to public health crises without meaningful demographic data.
“This bill will ensure that we can begin to address the health disparities we know about and the ones we are not yet aware of. Our public health departments are an important institution, and this bill ensures they are prepared to address Colorado’s health more fairly and effectively, making all of Colorado healthier and safer,” said Mardi Moore, Director Out Boulder County Executive.
Although collecting race and ethnicity data is standard practice, Colorado entities that report public health data were not legally required to do so. Collecting data on sexual orientation, gender identity and disability status is less common, but just as vital to public health. This data will enable public health agencies to identify and address health inequalities and disparities, leading to better health outcomes for historically underserved and marginalized people.
Rob Vissers, MD, CEO of Boulder Community Health, said, “BCH wants to create positive health outcomes for every member of our community, and we know that people from historically marginalized groups are at higher risk for disease and ill health. health. This is just as true for Boulder County as it is for the rest of the country. Collecting accurate demographic data is a key tool for understanding the issues facing our diverse community so we can take collective action to end health disparities. He goes on to say that collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity in this way “helps us treat our patients as whole individuals.”
Data collected as a result of this law will also allow CDPHE to track the Colorado Option, passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2021. The Colorado Option has established networks of “culturally responsive” healthcare providers who must be knowledgeable and responsive to the unique culture. needs of the various coloradans. Without data on sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, race and ethnicity, this mandate cannot be fulfilled.
This law does not require a person to provide demographic information regarding their race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Providing this information is optional for individuals, but attempting to collect it will be mandatory for service providers under the CDPHE. The current privacy protections that are in place for public health information and all such data reported to public health agencies being disaggregated and not linked to individual persons ensures that the privacy of individuals will be protected.
“Members of the LGBTQ community want to be represented in public health data and want their privacy protected. This law achieves both of these objectives. It should come as no surprise that our community is concerned about the government having identifying information related to sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Out County Executive Director Mardi Moore. Boulder. “We have worked with the Attorney General and the CDPHE on language to ensure that all federal and state health data privacy laws, rules and regulations will apply to this data, and as a member of the community, Checking all identification boxes is always optional.”
This bill requires the creation of a Data Advisory Working Group to assist the CDPHE in effectively implementing these requirements. The working group will include one CDPHE member, three active members of the Health Equity Commission (including individuals with expertise in data and reporting, county or district representation, and a contractor or data provider), three members of a nonprofit organization with experience collecting data relating to the COVID-19 virus and the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and people with experience with underserved racial and ethnic communities, respectively.
HB22-1157 was sponsored by Rep. Karen McCormick, Rep. Brianna Titone, and Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, in law.