By, Heather Warner
A national policy which bans medicare from paying for sex-change operations has been overturned. That means medicare can no longer deny coverage requests for sex reassignment surgeries.
An appeal board of the Department of Health and Human Services overturned the policy on Friday, in what’s being called a groundbreaking decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union, gay and lesbian advocates and defenders, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights responded with a joint statement praising the move. The groups say this decision is consistent with the consensus of the medical and scientific community, which says access to gender transition-related care is medically necessary for many people who don’t identify with their biological sex.
Lawyers with this case said the ruling does not mean Medicare recipients are necessarily entitled to have sex reassignment surgery paid for by the government.
Instead, the lifting of the coverage ban means they now will be able to seek authorization by submitting documentation from a doctor and mental health professionals stating that surgery is recommended in their individual case, Levi said.
No statistics exist on how many people might be affected by the decision.