Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Win: Agency Bans Health Care Exclusions for Federal Workers

NCTE Applauds Obama Administration, OPM Director Archuleta

Today, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a Carrier Letter to their health plans banning blanket exclusions for transition-related care. The news is the culmination of advocacy by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and others since 2009 pressing OPM to recognize that Federal Health Benefits Plans that maintain blanket exclusions of transition-related care is a form of employment discrimination and must be eliminated. 

In response to this development, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said: 

"The Office of Personnel Management's action eliminating blanket trans exclusions represents a huge step toward ending one of the last remaining ways the federal government itself discriminates against transgender people. Until now, the federal government has been providing discriminatory healthcare plans to its trans employees. Transgender workers have been required to pay out of pocket to cover care deemed necessary by their doctor--often for services that are covered for non-transgender people. This is completely out of step with the medical consensus on this issue and it is discrimination, plain and simple.

With today's announcement, transgender federal employees can now access health care that is so fundamental to their well-being and, in the long-term, will make transgender employees happier and more productive workers. We know that plans will still try to exclude some necessary services, and we will keep pushing to eliminate all insurance discrimination against trans people."

Rachel See is an openly transgender federal worker and in May 2015, was denied claim for coverage of transition related care. In light of the news, See said: 

"As someone who was recently forced to pay outrageous out-of-pocket costs for transition related care, I am thrilled to hear that OPM has finally taken this long-overdue step. My health care claim is as medically necessary as treatment for a broken arm or a heart condition, and federal health plans should treat all of these claims equally. For too long, transgender federal employees who sought to obtain medically necessary transition-related health care did not receive the government’s full support. I hope OPM will take action to help those who have already faced financial hardships because of discriminatory exclusions."

The National Center for Transgender Equality applauds OPM Director Katherine Archuleta and the Obama Administration for taking action against health care discrimination.

We expect new FEHB plans without blanket exclusions to begin January 1, 2016. However, NCTE urges all workers currently being denied health insurance coverage for transition-related care to refer to NCTE's Know Your Rights resources for information about how to file a complaint.

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