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State will cover gender reassignment surgery for transgender patients

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – The Patrick Administration announced a new policy Friday that will provide healthcare to transgender Massachusetts residents to cover their treatments.

The new policy will allow both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery to be covered by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program and the Division of Insurance, according to a recent release.

“I am proud to be part of a Commonwealth that puts equality as its top priority,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Massachusetts is a leader in health care, where we make the tough decisions for the good of our communities, and where discrimination, of any kind, will not be tolerated.”

MassHealth is happy about the new policy.

“Thanks to the Patrick Administration, MassHealth is once again leading the Commonwealth and the nation in access to health care services,” MassHealth Director Kristin Thorn said in a release. “By amending our regulations, we will now cover both gender-reassignment surgery and hormonal maintenance for Gender Dysphoria.”

DOI released a regulatory guidance to let health insurers know that they are not allowed to deny services that would normally be available to patients based on their gender identity. In it, State Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy says, "Denial of coverage for medically necessary treatment based on an individual's gender identity or gender dysphoria by any carrier is sex discrimination that is prohibited under Massachusetts law."

Attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Ben Klein said, "What's changing is that people will now be able to say my doctor has established that this treatment is necessary for me."

It's an opportunity to make a case, which Klein claims has been denied. But those opposed argue there's not a case to be made since they don't believe being transgendered is a medical condition.

Klein admits that there is no medical test applicable to this, but when asked how one could prove that treatments are medically necessary if there's no medical test, he said "that's true of many medical conditions that's done based on a doctor assessing patient history, patient behaviors over time."

For Rep. Shaunna O'Connell, though, it's not as much about medical proof as it is about political priority.

"Our seniors are suffering, can't afford their healthcare, can't afford their medications, veterans, you can go down the list and yet this is the priority of this administration," she said.

She went on to say, "This is gonna increase the cost of the program so all of us who subsidize it are going to be paying more."


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