Massachusetts has become the third state in the nation to cover transgender medical services, including gender reassignment surgery, as a standard benefit in its government health plan for lower-income and disabled people.
The administration of Governor Deval Patrick also moved to prohibit private insurers from denying coverage for gender reassignment surgery or other treatments medically necessary for patients who are transgender, saying that would constitute sex discrimination.
The Patrick administration will strongly recommend similar reforms to the Group Insurance Commission, which provides coverage for thousands of state and municipal employees and their dependents.
“I am proud to be part of a Commonwealth that puts equality as its top priority,” Patrick said in a statement. “Massachusetts is a leader in health care, where we make the tough decisions for the good of our communities, and where discrimination, of any kind, will not be tolerated.”
Only two other states — California and Vermont — have Medicaid programs guaranteeing treatment for gender dysphoria.
“This announcement is really historic because I don’t think there is a state that has announced in one fell swoop, this comprehensively, that medical care for transgender people is essential,” said Bennett H. Klein, a senior attorney for the group. “It’s not very often that we see moments we can point to as groundbreaking . . . and this is one of them.”