State plans to offer Medicaid coverage for youth gender treatment

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Transgender youths will soon qualify to receive Medicaid coverage for hormone treatment under a proposal announced by the state Health Department.

The agency intends to amend the Public Health Law to allow Medicaid payments for youths to be treated for gender dysphoria, a diagnosis in which a person exhibits a strong desire to be treated as a different gender or want to be rid of his or her sexual characteristics.

Prior to the rule change, the state provided Medicaid coverage for such treatment only for adults. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides financial aideto low-income people for health and medical care.

The agency stated in its proposed rule change that it has noticed “the beginning of a shift” in the approach that private insurers are taking with regard to claims filed in behalf of patients under the age of 18 who are being treated for gender dysphoria.

The agency also consulted with doctors about efficacy of the treatment.

“All of these practitioners were of the opinion that the use of pubertal suppressants and cross-sex hormone therapy could be medically necessary in the treatment of GD in individuals under age 18,” the agency wrote.

The health department’s decision will undoubtedly be applauded by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups which have criticized the denial of Medicaid coverage for youths diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

The change will not take effect immediately; the rule has a 45-day comment period after which the state can adopt it.

New York was among a handful of states that had enacted prohibitions on Medicaid payments for such treatments, the New York Times reported. It was a policy that dated back to the administration of Gov. George Pataki, a three-term Republican who left office in 2006.

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