By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com August 15 2014 1:38 PM ET
Low-income transgender residents of Oregon received some good news yesterday as a state review board added gender dysphoria to the list of covered conditions as part of the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), the state's version of Medicaid.
The Health Evidence Review Commission voted Thursday to add hormone therapy and surgical healthcare for transgender residents under the state's Medicaid plan. As part of a four-month review process, the commission evaluated treatments for gender dysphoria, ultimately concluding that such care is medically necessary, and should therefore be covered the same way OHP covers other necessary treatments.
“This is an historic step forward toward fairness and equality for transgender Oregonians,” said Danielle Askini, Basic Rights Oregon’s policy director, on the group's website. “All Oregonians need basic care to be healthy, and today’s vote ensures that more Oregonians have access to medically necessary care by bringing Oregon’s policy into line current major international treatment guidelines for transgender people.”
The commission estimated that the new coverage will impact roughly 175 Medicaid patients each year, and the total annual cost is estimated at less than $150,000, or 0.0015 percent of OHP's total budget.
Since 2012, Oregon has required that private insurance companies cover treatment for gender dysphoria, and last year announced that some basic treatment for transgender children would be covered under Medicaid. Oregon joins California, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., in offering treatment for gender dysphoria as part of Medicaid.
This new coverage will go into effect January 1, 2015.