The ACLU and the ACLU of Minnesota, along with Outfront Minnesota and Evan Tysilio Thomas filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Human Services last week challenging the coverage ban on transition related surgery for transgender people on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, Minnesota’s health care system.
According to the ACLU, “Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program provides coverage for medically necessary care for virtually every type of medical condition. But for gender dysphoria, Minnesota law mandates a sweeping and categorical exclusion of all transition-related surgical care without any regard to whether the treatment is medically necessary for an individual recipient. As a result of this sweeping exclusion, most surgical treatments for gender dysphoria are excluded from coverage even though the same or substantially equivalent treatments are required to be covered under the federal Medicare program and private insurance plans regulated by the State of Minnesota.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in Ramsey County Courts on December 17, 2015, states, “By statute, Minnesota arbitrarily and illegally deprives transgender people suffering from gender dysphoria of medically necessary care that is provided to every other Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare recipient. Minnesota’s Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs provide coverage for medically necessary care for virtually every type of medical condition. But for gender dysphoria , Minn. Stat. § 256B.0625, subd. 3a mandates a sweeping and categorical exclusion of all transition – related surgical care without any regard to whether the treatment is medically necessary for an individual recipient. As a result of this sweeping exclusion, treatments for gender dysphoria including, but not limited to, hysterectomies, mastectomies, orchiectomies, vaginoplasty, and phalloplasy are excluded from coverage even though the same or substantially equivalent treatments are covered for Medical Assistance recipients to treat other serious medical conditions. These discriminatory exclusions of healthcare for gender dysphoria have no basis in medical science and have been condemned by every leading medical group.”
Thomas, who is currently on MA and has a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria, has been denied coverage through MNCare for necessary required transition-related surgeries like chest reconstruction told the ACLU, “A weight was lifted when I first began my gender transition and realized I didn’t have to pretend to be a woman anymore,” Thomas continues, “Being denied surgical treatment is harmful to my health and well-being every day I’m forced to live in this body.”
Currently ten states including the District of Columbia cover transition-related surgeries through their publicly funded insurance programs. According to the Affordable Care Act [ACA], federal law prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against people who are transgender. Gender related surgeries were once considered “pre-existing conditions,” however, the ACA’s elimination of pre-existing conditions allows for transgender services.
Payton Aria, who is transgender and currently on Medical Assistance in Minnesota told Planet Transgender, “I think it’s great that some interest has been given, and I hope that the state is found guilty of discrimination. For far to long we have been pushed into the darkness at the cost of many lives, and the time to receive this treatment has come.”