BREAKING: Yesterday, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Legal Aid Society, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP filed a federal class action lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health on behalf of two trans women who have been denied medically necessary healthcare coverage because of New York State’s discriminatory and transphobic Medicaid exclusion. Read yesterday’s coverage in the Associated Press here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/new-york-sued-over-transgender-medicaid-coverage
The Medicaid regulation, enacted in 1998, denies medically necessary healthcare to transgender and gender nonconforming people based on information that has been widely discredited by medical authorities and disavowed by the federal government. Two weeks ago, we saw the federal government make an important decision when it reversed the 1981 policy that excluded gender affirming healthcare from coverage under Medicare. “This is a huge step,” says Sylvia Rivera Law Project Staff Attorney Elana Redfield. “Transgender Medicare recipients can now apply for the health care they need. It shouldn’t be different for people on Medicaid who need the very same care.”
The lawsuit challenges the regulation on three main legal points:
- New York State’s Medicaid regulation conflicts with the federal Medicaid Act, which prohibits certain forms of discrimination in state Medicaid programs. Medicaid discriminates because it provides most of the healthcare transgender people need to others who are not transgender.
- New York State’s Medicaid regulation conflicts with the Affordable Care Act, section 1557, which prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identiyto f expression amongst an entity that receives federal funding.
- The New York State Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sex stereotyping. Denial of necessary medical care solely on the basis of assigned birth sex is discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping.
“This regulation aggravates discrimination against a community that is already struggling to survive,” says SRLP Staff Attorney Pooja Gehi. “When our clients cannot access healthcare they need, they have a harder time getting identity documents such as state ID, or getting jobs, housing, and basic social services. It contributes to the cycles that keep transgender people in poverty.”
Join us in demanding trans healthcare by sharing this post with your friends and colleagues, and joining SRLP and our comrades for the 10th Annual Trans Day of Action next Friday, June 27. Winning this Medicaid battle will allow us to reduce the factors that keep transgender people in poverty and increase our community’s well-being and survival.
With your support and our community’s power, a victory for trans healthcare is on the horizon.
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