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University of Georgia does away with transgender health care exclusions

The University of Georgia is dropping its exclusion of transgender-related treatments and procedures in its employee health insurance. The change comes as part of settling a lawsuit very similar to one filed in North Carolina earlier this year.

From a local news report in Athens, Georgia:

The policy changes come after Skyler Jay, a catering manager at the University of Georgia, filed a federal lawsuit against the University System of Georgia last year.

The lawsuit claimed the University System of Georgia’s employee insurance health plan discriminated against its transgender employees because it excluded covering transgender medical care.

A few weeks ago, the University System of Georgia and Jay agreed to a settlement that removed the exclusion. The changes went into effect on September 1.

“Honestly, it means the world to me. It means, for me, life-saving access to care. It means other people who have reached out to me for life-saving access to care,” said Jay in Athens on Monday.

Policy Watch has been following the continuing struggle for transgender state employees to get coverage for treatments related to gender dysphoria.

As Policy Watch reported last year, the board of trustees of the state health care plan voted to begin covering treatments for gender dysphoria at the end of 2016, near the end of Janet Cowell’s term as State Treasurer. The move was necessary to comply with the Affordable Care Act. When Dale Folwell came into office in 2017, he made it clear he opposed the move, calling transition-related care elective and unnecessary.

The plan’s trustees allowed the coverage to expire at the first opportunity — not renewing it for the 2018 plan year or for 2019.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina has recognized dysphoria as a serious medical issue and covered treatments related to transition, including hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery. Transgender patients and their doctors have testified before the plan’s board of trustees that the treatment is necessary and life-saving.

Despite that, Folwell has said he does not intend to change the policy until ordered to do so by court order.

 

 

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