Recently the New York Post incited concern over the much-overstated prospect of New York “taxpayers [footing] the bill for transgender residents to get ‘sexual-reassignment surgery.'” The reality is that the proposal by members of the Health Disparities Committee of the New York Medicaid Redesign Team to repeal a discriminatory provision of New York’s Medicaid regulatory scheme does little more than ensure equal treatment for Medicaid-eligible transgender New Yorkers. As one Medicaid recipient explains of the exclusion: “You see, they think we take these medications just to take them… but these are not recreational things that we just do on the side just to feel pretty… this is our lives.”
Medicaid recipients who are diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) are currently refused treatment because of a biased and outdated regulation that discriminates against transgender individuals. A proposal to New York State Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team attempts to repeal this provision of the State’s regulatory scheme that precludes coverage for medical care related to gender transition. While the Metro and New York Post report that the proposal would cost the taxpayers of New York significantly, the reality is that the proposal saves on health costs and brings the state’s program in line with state and federal law.
Coverage for all transition-related health care is currently excluded under New York regulation N.Y.Comp.Codes R.& Regs.tit.18,§505.2(l). What this means is that medically necessary hormone care that costs as little as $20 a month is excluded from coverage only for transgender individuals. This blanket exclusion leaves transgender Medicaid recipients unable to access health care that prevailing medical standards confirm is medically necessary for patients with Gender Identity Disorder (GID). The American Medical Association, the American Psychology Association (APA) and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) have supported access to transition-related health care when a patient’s doctor finds the treatment to be medically necessary.