This week, Democracy Now! spoke with Pooja Gehi, a staff attorney at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), and Angie Milan-Cruz, one of the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit challenging the New York Department of Health's exclusion of transgender healthcare coverage from Medicaid. The lawsuit, filed by SRLP, the Legal Aid Society, and Willke, Farr & Gallagher LLP, specifically focuses on a statewide regulation adopted in 1998 that denies Medicaid coverage for treatments prescribed to transgender people. However, these treatments can be covered by Medicaid when prescribed for reasons other than treatment of gender dysphoria.
"Our major argument says that the federal government is saying that you cannot discriminate," said Gehi about the lawsuit. "States are not allowed to discriminate in the care that they provide on the basis of diagnosis, which is exactly what New York state is doing. So, because Angie is a trans woman, she’s not able to access the exact same care that non-trans people are able to access through Medicaid."
The segment also highlighted a media campaign launched by GLAAD and SRLP that includes a series of educational PSA videos featuring transgender advocates, allies, and healthcare providers discussing popular misconceptions about transgender care, and how this population is being prevented from accessing adequate care just because they are transgender.