A state panel may recommend expanding Medicaid coverage to include sexual-reassignment surgery for transgender New Yorkers.

The surgery, which transforms the sex organs and hormones in patients transitioning from male to female, or female to male, costs between $18,000 and $35,000.

The Health Disparities Work Group, which is responsible for advising Gov. Andrew Cuomo on revising Medicaid to be more "culturally competent," discussed the possibility of extending coverage earlier this month.

“The group has not made any formal recommendations yet,” New York State Department of Health spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said. “But this issue is being considered.”

 

If their proposal becomes a reality, the expensive surgery, as well as hormone therapy, would be covered by the state.

Republican senators are howling at the idea, according to the New York Post, calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars for a surgery they call “cosmetic.”

But transgender advocates say it’s a move toward equality.

“Coverage would mean the difference between life and death to the transgender community,” said Savannah Hornback at the Bronx Community Pride Center.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.

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