Governor Andrew Cuomo is requiring insurers to review claims by non-cisgender individuals carefully; move comes after Trump transgender military ban and failure of Texas ‘bathroom bill’
The Empire State is enacting more health care protections for transgender people.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday directed insurers operating in the state to ensure that transgender and non-binary patients aren’t denied healthcare because they don’t present as the gender for which such medical services are typically provided. In practical terms, this means that a transgender woman who was designated male at birth should have a prostate screening covered. Insurers will also have to pay for mammograms carried out for transgender men who either haven’t had, or haven’t chosen to go for bilateral mastectomies, or breast removal.
The directive was issued by the state’s Department of Financial Services after receiving reports that transgender New Yorkers have had such services denied. New York now requires insurers to take steps that may include requesting information on patients’ medical background before making a decision to deny a claim. It follows a 2014 move by Cuomo that mandates all insurers cover medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria—the condition of feeling unaligned with one’s natal sex—including gender reassignment surgery.
“In New York, we believe that healthcare is a right, and we are committed to protecting that right for all New Yorkers, regardless of income, age, race, sexuality or gender identity,” said Cuomo in a statement. “We will continue to work to combat discrimination in all forms and ensure equal treatment for all.”
The governor’s office couldn’t immediately provide information on how many people would be affected by the new regulation or the cost to insurers of extending such medical care to them. There are an estimated 1.4 million transpeople in the United States, though not all of them may avail themselves of such services.
New York’s move comes at a tumultuous time for the transgender community in the United States. President Donald Trump last month suddenly banned transgender individuals from serving in U.S. armed forces, alleging that the costs of transition were a “burden” to the military. A Rand Corporation study pegs the cost of transgender-related care in the military at between $2.4 million to $8.4 million, a fraction of the $611 billion America is spending on defense this year. At the same time, a controversial so-called “bathroom bill” advocated by right wingers in Texas failed today after the state’s House of Representatives failed to enact it into law.
Though Trump has donated to New York Democrats including Cuomo, the governor is also a vocal critic of the Queens-born commander-in-chief. This month, Cuomo instituted a council for women and girls in New York State after Hope Hicks, the interim White House communications director, called the body instituted by the Obama administration “redundant.”
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