Maryland House passes bill requiring gender-affirming care under Medicaid
The Maryland House of Delegates on Saturday passed a bill that would expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover gender affirmation procedures for transgender, intersex, non-binary, two-spirit, and all other gender-diverse people. .
The Trans Health Equity ActHB0283, would play an important role in ensuring that low-income transgender residents of Maryland on Medicaid can access hormone therapy, puberty blockers, hair alterations, facial and other body surgeries as well than many other gender affirmation procedures that are often covered by private insurance.
According to data from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, 24,000 Maryland residents are transgender and 6,000 are enrolled in Medicaid. In 2022, 98 transgender residents of Maryland obtained gender-affirming care through Medicaid.
But the state Medicaid program currently only covers some gender affirmation procedures, including mental health services, hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery for patients 18 years and older who meet specific qualifications. Meanwhile, gender-affirming care is usually covered by private insurance.
The legislation, a version similar to the one that failed last year, passed in the House final vote by a count of 93-37. During committee meetings, several Democrats expressed support for the legislation, including Delegate Anne Kaiser who sponsored the bill.
“We don’t have representation in this House by anyone from the trans community. So myself and my 59 co-sponsors are your voice. We are your representation”, Kaiser said.
She continued, “We recognize that what is being said nationally… about trans people are the same lies that were told about gays and lesbians 20 years ago, and that is part of why I feel the passion and connection with our trans brothers and sisters. , our neighbours, our community.
House Republicans on Friday proposed an amendment to the bill that would bar eligible people under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming care — a move that reflects nationwide attacks on this vital health care for transgender youth.
“It’s not about health. It’s about the male-to-female transition and the female-to-male transition of children,” said Delegate Mark Fisher, the Republican who proposed the amendment, according to the Baltimore Bannersharing his concerns that minors may undergo surgeries such as vaginectomies, mastectomies and penectomies.
But Delegate Bonnie Cullison, a Democrat, stressed that “it’s absolutely a health issue.” Cullison countered Fisher’s argument by adding that the surgeries he is concerned about would only be performed in extreme circumstances and when medically necessary and indicated for the health of the individual. The bill also stipulates that all gender-affirming medical care would only be carried out after consultation between a parent, patient and healthcare provider.
Fisher’s proposed amendment to bar minors from receiving gender-affirming care failed 90-37, according to the Baltimore Banner. A second Republican-backed amendment aimed at preventing gender-affirming care of minors without the consent of both parents failed the House by 91-36.
The legislation will now go to the Senate and, if passed, will be sent to Governor Wes Moore, who has already expressed support for the legislation. The passage of the bill in the House comes in the middle of the 426 anti-LGBTQ laws sweeping the nation, from bans on drag shows to limits on gender-affirming care.