Bil Browning

NY Medicaid May Cover Gender Reassignment Surgery

Filed By Bil Browning | September 30, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender reassignment surgery, Medicaid, New York, sex change

Encouraging news out of New York State this morning. NY-State-Seal.jpgThe state is considering covering gender reassignment surgery under Medicaid.

A panel considering ways to revamp Medicaid in New York has proposed that the program that pays for low-income residents' health care cover transgender surgery and hormone replacement therapy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed a task force earlier this year to overhaul the Medicaid system and cut costs. A group of health care professionals examining disparities in coverage is expected to decide next week where the transgender proposal fits on its list of priorities.

California and Minnesota already cover the procedure. A decision is expected in time for next year's budget. (Hat tip to Jack)


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Oh well. This was something that was being done without fanfare, at least until the New York Post decided to cover it.

After having been beating my head against the wall from 1999 (when I found the 1998 regulation) on this, even getting an inconclusive meeting with former Health Commissioner Daines that occurred on the same day that the Spitzer Scandal broke, I am really glad that Governor Cuomo and his people in the administration, and in the Health Department, are finally getting around to doing the right thing for the pooerest among us.

It is my belief that if Medicaid will cover HRT and surgery, it will significantly cut down the rate of HIV infection among poor trans people. The rate of infection from black market hormones injected with shared needles will drop. Perhaps fewer poor trans women will seek the quick "fix" that pumping auto grade silicone into their bodies does, if they have access to HRT that will help them in a real transition. I don't expect the phenomena to disappear, but the availability of proper medical care *will* actually *save* the state money.

In order to have an even greater positive effect, there is a need for jobs, without jobs there will still be sex work as a means of survival.

Fixing the Medicaid regulations will be a great first start - but then there's the need to enact the GEnder Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

Can this be done in New York in 2012?

Can it be done in Maryland? (Will the politicians there remember the MacDonald's attack and do the right thing?)

There are other states where the need is great/

It would be nice to see this happen, but I'll believe it when I see it and not one microsecond before.

What I expect is that this will never make it out of committee because NY pols on both sides don't see a benefit for themselves in fighting for the little guy. We'll see NY Democratic candidates use it as evidence of their progressiveness during the upcoming election season but we'll never see it actually become law nor probably even voted on by both houses of the NY legislature, just as we witness every time GENDA comes up for a vote.

I'd love to be proven totally wrong here, but I honestly don't expect to be.

This doesn't involve the legislature. It involves a complete rewrite of the Medicaid regulations, and does not require any statutory authorization - so this is, so far, a purely *administrative* issue.

We had no traction on this when Dr. Daines was the Health commissioner, quite frankly, because from my conversation with him, he was rather far away from "getting" anything outside his Mormon background. The current administration is really focused on doing the right thing.

GENDA, on the other hand, requires the legislature.

Ok, but then do you expect this to actually happen or will it prove to be nothing more than yet another Democratic election season progressive credibility talking point, just like GENDA? "Hey, we tried, really we did, but it's just those darn Republicans..."

From the WSJ:

A day after an advisory panel raised the idea of using Medicaid to pay for transgender surgery, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's health department dropped it.

"No consideration is being given to any change in current state policy and any proposal to have gender reassignment surgery funded by Medicaid would be rejected," said state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah.

The whole idea of funding medically necessary care for Trans people is almost as ridiculous as giving them equal rights to Gays.

I'm shocked I tell ya, just shocked. Pander to the wealthy and politically connected, keep throwing the poor under the bus, it's "Paygo" Cuomo's MO. After all, why change now, right?

Y'know, it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans all the time.

The same article that Zoe quoted states:

"Cuomo's immediate response Thursday was less definitive, saying simply he hadn't yet reviewed any recommendations from the working group. The story first reported by the New York Post quickly made national headlines."

All that means is that it is not dead yet, and that the new Health Commissioner needs to get a little education.

This isn't an election issue, and legislators are not involved. What we have here is a little issue with the bureaucracy, and let's face it, that news that somehow got leaked to the Post was way premature.

If the Health Cemmissioner thinks this is dead, he has another think coming.

All I can say is that the fat lady has not yet sung.

Kate @ TUNE Kate @ TUNE | October 2, 2011 1:53 AM

I'm surprised that Bil hasn't updated his article to show that this isn't going ahead, but that would just "cue the angry trans women in 1...2...3", wouldn't it? =P

Angry trans man on Medicaid says: Dammit, why'd you get my hopes up? D:

On the New York Medicaid issue, now is a good time to get vocal.

Housing Works is urging people to call the Governor's office to register our horror at the Health Commissioner's ignorant cavalier dismissal of the Working Group proposal without even giving it consideration on the merits.

http://www.housingworks.org/advocate/detail/monday-morning-outrage-demand-cuomo-support-for-trans-health-care


Action Alert: Tell Gov. Cuomo to Consider Transgender Medicaid Proposal
Posted by David Thorpe , October 03, 2011

According to this weekend’s New York Post, Governor Cuomo’s administration is refusing to even consider providing basic transition health services to transgender people through Medicaid.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah nixed the idea before one of the governor’s Medicaid redesign work group’s had an opportunity to discuss the proposal. Shah revealed his extreme ignorance—if not transphobia.

The American Medical Association says care related to changing one’s gender is medically necessary for the health of transgender people—and three other states use Medicaid to pay for these services. New York used to pay for these services until 1998, when, under Gov. Pataki, it changed its regulations. Lack of access to hormones and other services puts transgender individuals at risk of HIV and other illnesses by forcing them to go to the black market.

Let Governor Cuomo know that you are outraged that his administration is refusing to even consider providing basic transition health services to transgender people through Medicaid.

CALL 212-681-4580 OR 518-474-8390 and tell the governor how you feel in your own words, or say, “I’d like to let Gov. Cuomo know that I am outraged that his administration is refusing to even consider providing basic transition health services to transgender people through Medicaid.”

TWEET THIS: “Trans health care is a human right! @NYGovCuomo, tell Commissioner Shah to consider Medicaid for transitioning New Yorkers!”

POST ON CUOMO’s FACEBOOK He has two, so use the one labeled “Government Official”: http://www.facebook.com/GovernorAndrewCuomo?ref=ts.

Thank you for supporting trans rights and trans health care!

On the New York Medicaid issue, now is a good time to get vocal.

Housing Works is urging people to call the Governor's office to register our horror at the Health Commissioner's ignorant cavalier dismissal of the Working Group proposal without even giving it consideration on the merits.

http://www.housingworks.org/advocate/detail/monday-morning-outrage-demand-cuomo-support-for-trans-health-care


(This is a short version of a longer post being "held" because it has too many links - please click on the link to the Housing Works site to get the information!)