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August 11, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 32
 
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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

 

 



 
Medicaid no longer to cover gender reassignment surgery
Medicaid no longer to cover gender reassignment surgery
"...There's no cost benefit in denying necessary health care," said Chris Daley, the director of the Transgendered Law Center."

by Devin Glaser - SGN Contributing Writer

Washington State Medicaid officials are planning to change their coverage policies to bar future Transsexuals from receiving state funded gender reassignment surgeries. One of only a few states to cover gender reassignment surgeries, this marks a definitive step back for those living in poverty and dealing with gender-identity issues.

Under the proposed changes, Medicaid will still provide hormone treatment and psychotherapy, but will have clear rules denying access to gender reassignment surgery.

Washington's Medicaid policy has previously pioneered Transgendered health care. Despite being recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, few government or private health care programs will cover gender reassignment surgery as a treatment for gender-identity disorder.

The Medicaid policies have only recently become the focus of a political controversy. Republicans in the state Legislature attempted an immediate ban after the Washington Auditor's Office revealed the state had paid for gender reassignment surgeries. Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, sent a threatening letter to Governor Christine Gregoire informing her that he would have federal inspectors look into the matter.

Despite the controversy, gender-reassignment surgeries have only been paid for six times in the last fifteen years. Since 2000, the state has paid for two procedures totaling approximately $113,000.

Chris Daley, the director of the Transgendered Law Center, told the Seattle Times that barring people on Medicaid from necessary healthcare was "pure politics and bad public policy." Daley went on to explain that many people who undergo gender reassignment surgery often are able to become productive members of society for the first time.

"We all understand the impulse to rein in costs," Daley said to the Seattle Times, "but there's no cost benefit in denying necessary health care."

Despite the new rules, Medicaid will have to pay for at least two more procedures. In July, a state appeals board ruled that Medicaid would be used to pay for two more people to travel out of state to receive gender reassignment surgeries. The state estimates that the procedures will likely cost around $50,000 to $60,000 dollars each. In each case, the medical professionals testified that surgery was best for their clients, and the judges deemed the surgeries to be medically necessary.

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