NY proposes regulation to end exclusion on Medicaid coverage for transgender-related healthcare

New York State has proposed a new regulation that would remove a long-standing exclusion on coverage for transgender-related healthcare under Medicaid. The exclusion has been in place since 1998 and specifically denies coverage for treatments that have been prescribed to transgender people. However, these treatments can be covered by Medicaid when prescribed for reasons other than treatment of gender dysphoria.

This announcement comes after a bulletin issued last week saying that private insurance companies in New York will be required to offer coverage for transgender-related healthcare. It is preceded by years of advocacy work by transgender community members, doctors, advocates, allies, and those working on the Medicaid redesign team, calling for New York to repeal its Medicaid exclusion on transgender coverage. GLAAD has been working with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), the Audre Lorde Project, and many other community organizations over the past year brining greater attention to New York Medicaid's transgender-specific exclusion, and calling for change.

Last year, GLAAD and the SRLP launched a campaign and released 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. GLAAD and SRLP also shared infographics and flowcharts explaining how coverage for transgender-related healthcare under Medicaid would greatly improve the lives of many transgender people.

In June, SRLP, the Legal Aid Society, and Willkie, Farr & Gallagher LLP filed a federal class action lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health on behalf of two transgender women who have been denied access to medically necessary healthcare under a discriminatory Medicaid regulation, as first reported by the Associated Press

Medicaid is meant to ensure that qualifying low-income people and others without private health insurance coverage have access to necessary healthcare; however, transgender people are being denied treatments that are necessary for survival. While transgender people live in poverty at four times the national average, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a staggering 19% of transgender people report lacking any form of health insurance, including Medicaid. New York's Medicaid regulation adds to the barriers transgender people already face to accessing healthcare.

GLAAD will continue working with other organizations and advocates to ensure that New York continues the move toward access to healthcare for all transgender people.