By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com March 29 2013 2:01 PM ET
UPDATE: The Department of Health and Human Services has rescinded its call for public comment. Read the latest report here.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal government's national insurance program, is reconsidering whether or not it should cover gender reassignment surgery (often called sex reassignment surgery) for transgender people who have Medicare. It has offered the public 30 days to offer opinions on the matter. Since around 48 million people are covered by Medicare, if the agency decides to allow coverage, the change would have a significant impact on transgender people in the U.S.
This official reconsideration of coverage began yesterday and goes for 29 more days in which the public can comment.
The center states that it "considers all public comments, and is particularly interested in clinical studies and other scientific information relevant to the topic under review. Surgical Treatment for Gender Identity Disorder is currently noncovered under the Medicare Part A and Part B programs. The existing policy, which became effective in 1981, states that transsexual surgery is considered experimental. Please note that we are making an administrative change to the NCD title under this reconsideration to reflect current medical terminology. The new title for Section 140.3 will be Surgical Treatment for Gender Identity Disorder."
Trans activists and medical professionals are urging everyone to comment in support of a change. Without medical coverage, the cost of gender reassigment surgery in the U.S. can far exceed $50,000.
Visit CMS.gov to comment.