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Maryland Governor Signs Bill Assuring Medicaid Coverage of Gender-Affirming Care

Maryland Governor Signs Bill Assuring Medicaid Coverage of Gender-Affirming Care

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore

Gov. Wes Moore also signed legislation protecting abortion rights.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has signed a bill into law guaranteeing Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming procedures.

Moore, a Democrat, signed the bill Wednesday, along with several other measures, including legislation protecting access to abortion in the state.

Senate Bill 460, the Trans Health Equity Act, requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program — the state’s Medicaid program — to cover medically necessary gender-affirming care in a nondiscriminatory manner. The program may not issue an “adverse benefit determination,” that is, deny coverage, “unless a health care provider with experience prescribing or delivering gender-affirming treatment has reviewed and confirmed the appropriateness of the determination,” the legislation states.

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program providing health insurance for low-income Americans. The Maryland legislation comes at a time when conservative states are banning Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming procedures or banning the procedures for minors.

“In our state, no one should ever have to justify their humanity,” Moore said at a signing ceremony, the Associated Press reports. “In our state, no one should have to justify their own humanness, and that’s what the Trans Health Equity Act is all about, and it’s the legislation that we need.”

On abortion, he signed a bill protecting Marylanders from punishment related to abortion bans in other states. They cannot be forced to give testimony or provide evidence in another state in cases involving an alleged violation of that state’s abortion law, according to the governor’s office.

He also signed a bill declaring a right to reproductive health care; one protecting the privacy of certain information about this care; and one requiring public colleges and universities to develop and implement a plan for this care, including access to contraceptives and abortion medications.

Moore signed additional legislation that sets licensing requirements and tax rates for the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Last year, voters approved a state constitutional amendment making it legal for adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis; Maryland had previously legalized the medical use of the drug. Medical dispensaries will be able to have licenses to sell marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. Priority for new licenses will go to members of minority groups “in communities that have been negatively affected by past marijuana laws,” the AP notes.

“Today, we further strengthened our leave no one behind vision by protecting individual freedoms, solidifying reproductive rights, expanding access to healthcare, and creating an adult-use cannabis market that directly benefits those that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs,” Moore said, according to a press release from his office. “Here in Maryland we are committed to righting the wrongs of the past and protecting the rights of all Marylanders in the future. As long as I am governor, I will fight with everything I’ve got to ensure we’re creating a safe, equitable, and prosperous home for every Marylander.”

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