Colorado is set to become the first state to mandate gender affirming health care in some of its private insurance plans.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced Tuesday that beginning in 2023, Colorado’s individual and small group plans will be required to expand their coverage of transition-related care. These plans cover about 20 percent of Colorado residents, according to The Hill.
The changes have been approved by the Biden administration through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
While the state already requires all insurance companies to cover some aspects of gender affirming care, CMS announced that there will now be more procedures deemed essential for these individual and small group plans.
This new essential care includes laser hair removal, breast and chest construction, face tightening, eye and lid modifications, and facial feminization through bone remodeling.
“For too long, transgender people have faced barriers that make it difficult for them to access doctors, affordable coverage and medical treatment,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator for CMS, at the press conference.
She added that the move is part of the Biden Administration’s dedication to expanding health care access for the LGBTQ community.
Brooks-LaSure also expressed hope that Colorado can set an example for other states.
“States can be incredibly interested in what other states do. I think that Colorado making this step of going forward and affirming this desire will cause other states to also take a look at their coverage and think about whether to add gender-affirming coverage as well.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra also celebrated Colorado’s move.
“Health care should be in reach for everyone; by guaranteeing transgender individuals can access recommended care, we’re one step closer to making this a reality,” Becerra said. “I am proud to stand with Colorado to remove barriers that have historically made it difficult for transgender people to access health coverage and medical care.”
There are currently 9 states that explicitly exclude gender-affirming health care in their Medicaid coverage, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
Eighteen states have no explicit policy related to transgender health coverage, while 23 states and D.C. explicitly cover at least some aspects of transition-related care.