Health and Wellness

Trans youth in New York now have Medicaid coverage for gender treatments

Transgender youth living in New York State are now able to receive Medicaid coverage for transition-related medical care, including hormone therapy such as puberty blockers. The state adopted a proposed rule that makes Medicaid payments available for these treatments.

Medicaid coverage is now allowed for anyone, not just those over 18 years old, as previous regulations allowed, who seeks certain gender dysphoria treatments and meets a number of criteria. This includes gender reassignment surgery.

“I honestly think that’s great!” said Matt Pasini, 19. The young trans man started on hormone blockers, four years ago at age 15, following a difficult period in which his parents tried to “cure” him through reparative therapy. The native Venezuelan moved to the U.S. with his family when he was less than 2 and is now a U.S. citizen. He’s still living with his parents, who have come full circle in terms of acceptance.

“My parents were unaccepting to the point they put me in therapy,” Pasini told LGBTQNation. It backfired, in his favor. “The therapist they found me turned out to be a gender therapist, who helped my parents become more accepting.”

New York lawmakers needed a little of the same kind of help, according to Matthew Hamilton, blogger for the Times Union newspaper. He wrote that the NYS Department of Health received comments regarding the rule that “objected generally to medical intervention for a ‘delusion’” and others contending that gender dysphoria does not meet criteria for Medicaid coverage under state Social Services Law.

Hamilton wrote that the department addressed the response in its publishing of the rule Wednesday.

“In this rulemaking, and in prior rulemakings, the Department has established standards intended to ensure Medicaid pays for high-quality care that is not medically contraindicated, is medically necessary to treat an individual’s gender dysphoria, and is undertaken with the informed consent of the individual,” reads the department’s response.

Some health insurance plans that cover treatments for transgender patients do not cover procedures such as facial feminizing surgery for transgender women, and other operations to change a trans patient’s physical appearance to more closely conform to secondary sex characteristics of the gender with which that person identifies. The new Medicaid rule, it is covered if deemed medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria and prior approval is given.

The new rule also makes clear that gender reassignment surgery shall be covered by Medicaid for adults in New York.

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