John M. Becker

DC Mayor Unveils Comprehensive Trans Health Coverage

Filed By John M. Becker | February 27, 2014 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: health insurance for transgender people, trans-inclusive healthcare, transgender health, Vincent Gray, Washington D.C.

Vincent-Gray.jpegThis morning, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced new rules requiring that all public and private health insurance plans that fall under the city's regulatory purview cover trans-related healthcare expenses, including gender reassignment surgery.

Andrew Cray at ThinkProgress reports that the policy covers nearly all public and private insurance plans in the city, including Medicaid, insurance for D.C. government employees, and individual, small group, and large group private insurance plans, including those sold under the D.C. healthcare exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. "Following today's announcement, the District will have the most comprehensive policy in the nation when it comes to providing transgender people with the health care that they need to live healthy and authentic lives," Cray writes, "including coverage for transition-related care."

At a press conference this morning unveiling the updated policy, Mayor Gray said that it represents the culmination of nearly a year's worth of work to remove exclusions in health insurance related to gender identity and expression.

"Today, the District takes a major step towards leveling the playing field for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria. These residents should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment when those without gender dysphoria do not."

"This action places the District at the forefront of advancing the rights of transgender individuals. It also fully implements the District's Human Rights Act by incorporating gender identity and expression as protected classes in the District's health insurance laws."

Local and national LGBT organizations hailed the move. Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality, which advocated for the trans-inclusive health guidelines, explained the importance of today's announcement to D.C.'s trans community: "It means healthcare is affordable and means we can access that care without delay or limitation. Here in the nation's capital, transgender people won't be forced to choose between paying the bills or paying for healthcare."

Cray of ThinkProgress added, "[T]his announcement tells transgender people in the District that their health matters."

Further details are after the jump.

The change comes in the form of an updated bulletin from D.C.'s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking. BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner reports:

Specifically, the bulletin concludes:

"[I]t is the position of the Department that treatment for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit, and individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria are entitled to receive medically necessary benefits and services under individual and group health insurance policies covering medical and hospital expenses."

Further, it states that the government "would view attempts by companies to limit or deny medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria, including gender reassignment surgeries, to be discriminatory," and therefore, prohibited under D.C. law.

While D.C.'s policy is the most comprehensive, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, and Vermont all currently provide some level of coverage for trans-related healthcare. Andy Bowen, NCTE Policy Associate, said that advocates hope to use the District's model as a template for adding more states to that list.

"Critically important is that as more states follow the District's lead, we'll be better able to educate the medical community about respectfully and comprehensively meeting our healthcare needs. And that sets us up for more wins like this in other states."


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