Trans Equality.org: Members of Congress Tell VA: Repeal Health Care Ban for Trans Vets
The following article was published on September 14, 2016. A link to the article can be found here.
In a letter to Secretary Robert McDonald, Members of Congress urged the Veterans Administration to repeal an outdated and unlawful regulation that bans all transition-related surgeries for transgender veterans. While the VA has taken some important steps to improve health care for transgender veterans in recent years, the complete ban on surgical care violates the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on gender-based discrimination. The VA announced in June it was considering changing the ban, acknowledging it flies in the face of current medical science, but has not yet formally started the process of repealing it.
The Congressional letter, led by Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois and other members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus's Transgender Equality Task Force, states: “Our veterans earn the benefits provided to them through dedicated service to the protection of our country. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all of our veterans are able to access the healthcare they have dutifully earned.”
The letter cites a growing body of research that, as other federal and state agencies have concluded, shows that inclusive care for transgender people does not increase costs. Currently, Medicare and a growing number of private insurance plans cover transition-related surgeries—including 40% of Fortune 500 employee plans, many federal and state employee plans, and Medicaid in over a dozen states. The Defense Department announced in June that it would provide all medically necessary care for current military service members who transition, including needed surgeries.
NCTE has long urged the VA to repeal the transgender ban, and in May the Transgender Law Center and Lambda Legal filed a formal rulemaking petition with the VA on behalf of two individual veterans. We thank the Representatives who joined today’s letter for their support.