Policy & Advocacy

Whitman-Walker Institute’s Policy Department works to advance laws and policies at the local, state, and national levels that promote health equity, expand access to health care and coverage, and dismantle discrimination and other forms of structural oppression affecting underserved communities.

We bring to this work rigorous research and health policy analysis, deep relationships with state and federal policymakers, longstanding collaborations with partner organizations across multiple justice movements, and the direct service experience of Whitman-Walker Health (WWH), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that serves thousands of diverse patients across the Washington D.C. area and beyond. We have expertise in areas of policy such as LGBTQI+ health equity, gender-affirming care, insurance reform, health system transformation, social determinants of health, HIV prevention and treatment, and sexual orientation and gender identity data collection.

The Policy Department pursues its mission by focusing on three integrated priorities:

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Ensure equitable access to high-quality, integrated health services and health insurance coverage for underserved communities nationwide, especially for LGBTQI+ people, people living with HIV, and FQHC patient populations.

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Enhance responsible data collection on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics to advance evidence-based policymaking, intersectional research agendas, and the provision of high-quality, person-centered care.

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Develop and promote policies that improve social determinants of health and population health for underserved communities, particularly LGBTQI+ people, people living with HIV, and FQHC patient populations.

The Institute’s Policy Department oversees multiple initiatives that advance its mission and cross-cutting priorities through strategic advocacy, technical assistance for policymakers, effective coalition-building, timely and impactful policy research, and cutting-edge analysis.

Key Initiatives include:

Recent Activities:


Whitman-Walker Institute Condemns Nationwide Injunction Blocking Federal Nondiscrimination Protections for Transgender People Following a ‘Shameful’ Decision in Tennessee Case
Read the press release

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Whitman-Walker Institute’s Lienna Feleke-Eshete OpEd: “Our Country is Facing a Youth Mental Health Crisis, Particularly Among BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Youth. D.C.’s New $5 Insurance Copay is Saving Lives.”

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Whitman-Walker Institute Decries Misleading Propaganda About Transgender Health During Congressional Hearing”

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Whitman-Walker Institute Applauds the Biden-Harris Administration for Finalizing Robust Affordable Care Act Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBTQI+ Communities

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Kellan Baker and Caroline Medina AcademyHealth blog post on “Data Equity and LGBTQ Populations: Why Collecting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Matters.”

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Whitman-Walker Institute public comment – joined by the U.S. Professional Association for Transgender Health and GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality – opposing efforts by the Texas Department of Health and Human Resources to expand the state’s ban on gender-affirming care under state Medicaid.

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When Identity and Genetics Intersect” – a Podcast conversation between Dr. Kellan E. Baker, Executive Director and Chief Learning Officer of the Whitman-Walker Institute, and Dr. Frederick Chen, Chief Health and Science Officer of the American Medical Association.

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Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) released its “Addressing Disparities in Research Informing Personalized Medicine” final report, developed and written by PMC’s Health Equity Task Force, of which Whitman-Walker Institute’s Dr. Kellan Baker is a member.

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Op-ed in The Hill by Sara Mar of Whitman-Walker Institute pushing back on the adoption of new anti-transgender policies in Florida.

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Op-ed in Ms. Magazine by Sara Mar of Whitman-Walker Institute on state-level efforts to restrict essential health care across the country.

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Op-ed in NewThinking by Sara Mar of Whitman-Walker Institute arguing that attacks on transgender medical care are an issue of racial and economic justice.

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American Journal of Public Health article by members of Whitman-Walker Institute on “Advancing Sexual and Gender Minority Population Health Using Electronic Health Record Data”.

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Out2Enroll released its Transgender Health Insurance Guides for 2024, which provides a systematic review of plans offered in 32 states on the federal marketplace.

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Whitman-Walking Institute, Human Rights Campaign, and Movement Advancement Project lead public comment signed by 185+ organizations urging the Administration to improve LGBTQI+ data collection on the American Community Survey, the nation’s premier source of data on the social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics of the U.S. population.

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Whitman-Walker joint comment regarding the one-year anniversary of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resolution on the use of Molecular HIV Surveillance and Cluster Detection and Response policies.

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Whitman-Walker Institute receives a new 4-year grant from the Greater Washington Community Foundation to support health advocacy, policy, and systems change.

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Whitman-Walker comments in support of a national coverage determination for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, both as a physician-administered and self-administered prevention modality.

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D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority partners with Whitman-Walker Institute to improve access to mental and behavioral health services for children.

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Whitman-Walker Institute public comment regarding the health care rights law (Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act).

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Led by Whitman-Walker Institute, the Federal LGBTQI+ Health Policy Roundtable publishes a report identifying opportunities for immediate action for improved health outcomes for LGBTQI people across the country.

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