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Wisconsin group health board approves coverage for transgender workers

Wisconsin group health board approves coverage for transgender workers

The Wisconsin State Capitol Building

Wisconsin’s Group Insurance Board approved coverage for trans state employees seeking gender confirmation surgery. This health coverage takes effect on 1 January 2019.

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The decision took place on Wednesday, August 22. The Board passed it by a 5-4 vote.

‘We are pleased that the state of Wisconsin has recognized that denying transgender people access to necessary health care has no basis in medical science,’ the ACLU of Wisconsin said.

‘The board’s decision is an important step in the right direction and we commend them for allowing access to care that the medical community agrees is necessary.’

Background

‘However, the decision does not undo the harm the exclusion has already caused to some transgender employees, who have been unable to receive the care they need for years or have had to undertake severe financial burdens to obtain it,’ the ACLU continued.

These services were previously available to transgender state employees in 2016. However, in 2017, the allowance was reversed at the request of Governor Scott Walker.

‘I’ve been waiting so long,’ said Rowan Calyx, a 46-year-old trans man working for the University of Wisconsin. ‘Now that this is actually approved, I can go ahead and feel like this is going to go somewhere, instead of continuing to get disappointed over and over.’

The Board’s renewal of the policy came after two trans employees sued the state last year for not having these benefits. Last month, a Wisconsin judge also ruled the state cannot bar the use of Medicaid funds to pay for the surgery.

UnitedHealthCare, which is starting a Medicare Advantage program for state workers and retirees, agreed with this decision. According to The Star Tribune, UnitedHealthCare told the State that refusing coverage for sex reassignment procedures would cause them to be out of compliance with federal Medicare rules.

‘What we’re talking about is the improved health and well-being of our members for no cost,’ Board member Herschel Day told The Star Tribune. According to Day, this coverage should not affect premiums.

Twitter reactions

Some took to Twitter to celebrate the State’s new policy.

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Last year, the United States Court of Appeals sided with Wisconsin student Ash Whitaker in a bathroom bill lawsuit. The school district paid the trans boy a $800,000 settlement.