A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Progress For Transgender Health Care; Progress for All

Progress For Transgender Health Care; Progress for All

June 25, 2014

HCFA is extraordinarily pleased with the recent decisions by the Patrick administration supporting health care for people needing gender therapy care. The new policy will allow transgender people across the state to access appropriate mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care.

The state made several related decisions in this area last week. DOI issued a bulletin advising health insurers that "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." In addition, MassHealth will soon cover gender affirmation surgery and other treatment for gender dysphoria as part of its benefits. The administration also pledged to work with the state's Group Insurance Commission to take similar steps in ensuring equal access to gender therapy services for the state employees it covers.

The press statement from Mass Equality includes our comments:

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an immensely important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the Administration for again putting Massachusetts in the vanguard among states as a leader in health equity for everyone, and providing a model other states can use to improve access to care for all residents.”

Monday, the Boston Globe ran a moving portrait of 60-year Cape Cod musician Rikki Bates, who was denied MassHealth coverage for gender reassignment surgery earlier this year. “It’s like my life’s dream coming true, really,” Bates is quoted as saying. “I never thought this day would come.”

We congratulate the adminstration for this progress, and will continue to work closely with DOI and MassHealth as this new policy is implemented.

   -Brian Rosman