Rhode Island is now one of just nine states and the District of Columbia offering coverage for transgender medical services under Medicaid. The new policy went public this week.
Previously, Medicaid in Rhode Island offered no coverage for patients seeking hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery. Now, those patients can get those services and mental health treatment too.
Jennifer Levi, from the advocacy group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, says the policy will help mitigate the cost of gender reassignment procedures and therapies, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
“It also sends the message that transgender people are less than human, and that their medical needs are unimportant,” said Levi. “So this guidance is really important, because it sends that message that transgender lives in Rhode Island are valued and recognized.”
But Levi points out that many people do not qualify for Medicaid, the state-administered health care program for low income and disabled residents. Levi said many Rhode Islanders with private insurance still lack benefits.
“There are other states which have gone further, in issuing bulletins or guidance from state insurance commissions to ensure that private plans as well do not discriminate against transgender people’s healthcare needs,” said Levi.
Levi said the vast majority of private insurance plans do not cover transgender medical services.
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