News (USA)

Maryland passes bill protecting gender-affirming care access for trans people on Medicaid

Gov. Wes Moore
Gov. Wes Moore Photo: Campaign website

Maryland just passed a bill requiring the state’s Medicaid program to pay for gender-affirming care in a “nondiscriminatory” manner “consistent with current clinical standards.”

Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed S.B. 460 Wednesday, one of over 100 measures signed at the same ceremony that dealt with wide-ranging issues, including reproductive health care, mental health, and cannabis.

“The legislation signe​d today by Governor Moore will protect the health, wellbeing, and rights of all Marylanders,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D) said in a statement about the bills. “While other states are dead set on ripping away reproductive rights and attempting to erase the existence of trans and nonbinary individuals, we’re doing the opposite: We’re making Maryland a state that is welcoming, inclusive, and that safeguards the rights of all people.” 

S.B. 460, introduced by Maryland Del. Anne Kaiser (D) last year, bans the Maryland Medical Assistance Program from issuing an “adverse benefit determination” to deny coverage unless a healthcare professional has reviewed the case and found that the determination is appropriate.

“What is being said nationally about trans people are the same lies that were said about gays and lesbians 20 years ago,” said Kaiser, who became one of Maryland’s first openly gay legislators in 2002. “And that’s part of the reason I feel the passion and the connection to our trans brothers and sisters.”

“In our state, no one should ever have to justify their humanity,” Moore said. “In our state, no one should have to justify their own humanness, and that’s what the Trans Health Equity Act is all about, and it’s the legislation that we need.”

LGBTQ+ people in Maryland are afforded more protections than their counterparts in other states, banning anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, banning the gay and trans panic defenses as well conversion therapy, and including sexual orientation and gender identity under the state’s hate crimes legislation.

In 2022, the state House of Delegates rejected a transgender sports ban proposed by a Republican member, just a year after the state passed a bill to end the practice of requiring trans people to publish their deadnames in a newspaper before legally updating their documents.

One of the bills related to abortion that Moore signed on Wednesday makes it so that the state will not cooperate with criminal, civil, or administrative proceedings against healthcare providers if they perform an abortion on someone from another state. Another bill requires colleges and universities to protect students’ access to birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion pills.

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