Legislators voice support for equal healthcare coverage for transgender Washingtonians

The lesbian and gay members of the Washington State Legislature applaud Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s announcement that, in accordance with both the Affordable Care Act and Washington’s 2006 anti-discrimination law, that health insurance plans sold in Washington state must provide medically necessary care for transgender Washingtonians.

“I am proud that once again Washington is leading the country in treating its LGBT citizens equally and with respect.  Transgender people deserve equal access to the healthcare system for their particular needs,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle.

Currently, most insurance plans contain exclusions for medically necessary treatments for the transgender community.  These exclusions are used to deny care.  Even treatments such as hormone replacement therapy and counseling that are covered for non-transgender Washingtonians are denied to transgender Washingtonians.

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, had this to say in response to the announcement, “In spite of the fact that this discrimination is illegal, it continues.  Coming from a public health background, I know the importance of providing quality care.  Categorically denying this to transgender people is unacceptable. I am gratified that Washington is now on a clear path to providing medically necessary care to all members of our community.”

Across the country, medical health experts have stressed the need to provide equal access to healthcare for transgender Americans. Recently, the Obama administration announced that transgender people who receive Medicare would not be denied coverage. State and Federal governments are requiring insurance companies to provide parity.

“This is not only a civil rights issue, it’s an economic issue,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo. “More than four in 10 transgender Washingtonians attempt suicide, and the follow-up care costs about $7,000 per incident. Cities, employers and states that provide this benefit report that the cost is negligible and has not affected premiums.”

“Ensuring that transgender Washingtonians have access to life-saving care is about basic humanity,” said Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver.  “We know that transgender people who receive the care have far better outcomes than those that do not. It would be wrong to continue to allow so many of our brother and sisters to be plagued by suicide attempts when we can prevent them.”

“As we fight to improve health outcomes across our state, this is an important step to ensure quality care for transgender Washingtonians.   This is about civil rights, and it’s about embracing access as a core principle for all members of our community,” concluded Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, D-Seattle.