By: Amelia Bodge, Staff Writer
Transgender medical care coverage will now be provided by MaineCare as of September 16 after a policy against it was overturned. The change to the policy was approved through legislation passed this year and signed by Gov. Janet Mills in June. Transsexual procedures had been excluded from MaineCare coverage prior to Sept. 16. Maine was one of 10 states whose healthcare excluded transgender related care.
MaineCare is Maine’s a division of Medicaid, the federal and state program that provides medical coverage for qualified people with low income. Under the new rule, medical providers will now be reimbursed for providing services covered by MaineCare to treat patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition defines gender dysphoria as “a distressed state arising from conflict between a person’s gender identity and the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth.”
Coverage will include treatments such as a diagnosis from a mental health provider and hormone-replacement therapy. Coverage for surgical procedures used to treat gender dysphoria will require authorization from MaineCare. These treatments can help people suffering from gender dysphoria feel more aligned with their gender.
During a press release for the coverage change Quinn Gormley, executive director of Maine TransNet, said “Trans people face significant economic barriers to accessing care, and more than one in three trans people have declined to access care of any kind because they could not afford it.”
According to the 2015 U.S Transgender Survey Maine State Report, 10% of respondents were unemployed and 25% were living in poverty. Also, according to the survey 23% of respondents experienced a problem with their insurance related to being transgender, such as being denied coverage for care related to gender transition or being denied coverage for routine care because they were transgender. This new coverage could greatly expand access to gender related healthcare in the Maine transgender community.
Maine joins 22 other states that cover transition and gender affirming care through Medicaid.
In a statement from the Portland Campus Diversity Center, Sarah Holmes, Assistant Dean of Student and Deputy Title IX Coordinator said that expanded coverage “Will have a positive impact for students.”
Sarah Holmes explained the Diversity Center on either the Gorham or Portland campus is a great place for transgender students to go to seek resources and advocacy. The Diversity Center does a lot of work for transgender and non-gender conforming students like increasing access to gender neutral bathrooms on campus and creating gender inclusive housing on the Gorham campus.
Holmes also said that there was student interest in starting a social group for transgender students. Any student needing resources or that has an interest in the social group can email Sarah Holmes ([email protected]) for more information.