On Friday, June 20th, Massachusetts state agencies announced groundbreaking reforms affirming that transgender people should have the health care coverage they need. Under these policy changes, MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program, will extend health care coverage to many treatments that transgender people need. The Commissioner of Insurance also clarified that under state laws banning sex discrimination, private insurance companies cannot categorically exclude transition-related medical care from coverage. These blanket exclusions are outdated, discriminatory policies that deny transgender people coverage for the same healthcare that non-transgender people receive. Massachusetts joins the growing number of states that prohibit these exclusions in public and private insurance plans. In May 2014, the federal Medicare program also removed its policy of excluding coverage for this care.
We congratulate and applaud all of the tireless advocates who helped make this progress happen.
Health care discrimination contributes to serious health disparities and economic instability in transgender communities. Historically, blanket exclusions for transition-related care have been particularly harmful to the most marginalized transgender people, who are unable to pay out-of-pocket for this care. Eliminating both economic and policy barriers to health care is extremely important, because when transgender people receive the health care they need, their health outcomes improve and they can truly thrive!
For this reason, we look forward to working with our partner organizations and state agencies across the country to make sure that recent victories extend to those facing the greatest barriers to health care—including transgender prisoners. In 2012, Michelle Kosilek—a transgender woman incarcerated in Massachusetts—won an historic courtroom victory expanding transgender prisoners’ rights to gender affirming health care. We urge the Patrick administration to drop its ongoing appeal of this case, and to fully implement its commitment to ending health care discrimination against transgender people in the Commonwealth and all prisoners in its custody. We must ensure that these exciting victories extend equal health care coverage throughout Massachusetts and beyond.
- To learn what you can do to advocate for inclusive health care coverage, click here.
- To learn more about TLC’s work for inclusive health care coverage, click here.
To learn more about how you can support transgender prisoners, check out these organizations:
- Black and Pink
- LGBT Books to Prisoners Project
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project
- TGIJP (Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project)
- Tranzmission Prison Project