News (USA)

San Francisco to provide equal health care access to transgender patients

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Health Commission, the governing and policy-making body of the city’s Department of Public Health, announced Tuesday its intent to remove transgender exclusions from the “Healthy San Francisco” health access program.

In a unanimous vote, the commission said it would implement the change, based on the recommendations that were set forth in a resolution authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener and passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors last month.

Healthy SF currently excludes transgender patients from accessing medically necessary transition-related care that is available to non-transgender patients, even though transition-related care has been deemed medically necessary by the American Medical Association and numerous other professional health organizations.

The removal of these exclusions follows a growing trend in government, educational institutions, and corporate America toward inclusion of health coverage for the medical needs of transgender people. The cities of San Francisco and Berkeley have already removed such exclusions for city employees.

“Removing these exclusions will make a real difference in the lives of transgender San Franciscans, especially those who struggle to make ends meet,” said Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. “I am grateful for the leadership of our HEALTH Council members, Supervisor Weiner, and many others who have all worked together to make this happen.”

The San Francisco HEALTH Council, a group of community advocates convened by Transgender Law Center and Lyon Martin Health Services’ collaborative program “Project HEALTH,” has been working since 2010 to have transgender exclusions removed from Healthy SF.

“I am filled with hope and gratitude that we are achieving this level of support for the well-being of the transgender community,” said Kathryn Steuerman, a member of the HEALTH Council.

A Transgender Law Center report published in 2008 — “The State of Transgender California” — found that transgender Californians experience unemployment and poverty at rates twice the state average, 42 percent have delayed seeking health care because they could not afford it, and 26 percent report health conditions had worsened because they postponed care.

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