Oregon Health Authority To Cover Hormones, Surgery for Transgender People

The Oregon Health Plan in January will begin covering the costs of hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery for transgender Oregonians who are covered under Medicaid, the state's Health Evidence Review Commission voted today. 

"I'm really happy for everyone in the community," says Rebekah Brewis, a Portland woman who castrated herself in prison after the state refused to allow her access to hormone treatment and surgery. Brewis attended today's hearing. 

"It's enormous. It's amazing to know I have the options if I need," she says. "The whole world is opening up." 

Basic Rights, TransActive, the Q Center and Cascade Aids Project put together this tip sheet on what treatments will be covered and when coverage will begin. 

The state had previously agreed to cover mental health treatment for transgender patients, doctors visits and pubertal suppressing drugs for transgender adolescents insured through the Oregon Health Plan. The total cost increase to the state is estimated at about $300,000 every two years. That's out of a $9.7 billion healthcare budget.

"This is monumental for low income transgender people across the country. It signals that Medicaid has an obligation to cover medically necessary lifesaving care," says Danielle Askini, policy director for Basic Rights Oregon. "But we still have a lot of work to do to assure these policies are implemented in an appropriate manner."

Oregon already required private insurers to cover transgender medical care deemed medically necessary, one of just a handful of states where insurance regulators have banned private insurers from issuing blanket denials of transgender care. 

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