PORTLAND, Ore. - Beginning on January 1, Oregon’s Medicaid program will start covering gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy and other treatments for transgender patients.
The State’s decision to add benefit coverage for transgender patients was made on Thursday after A panel of health experts decided to add Gender Dysphoria (formerly known as Gender Identity Disorder) to the list of treatments covered by the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon's version of Medicaid which provides health coverage for nearly 1 million Oregon residents.
Thursday’s decision was based upon the reviews made by the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC). The Health Evidence Review Commission reviews medical evidence in order to prioritize health spending in the Oregon Health Plan and to promote evidence-based medical practice statewide through comparative effectiveness reports, including Coverage Guidance's, health technology assessments and evidence-based practice guidelines. According to the HERC, The commission uses a transparent public process to ensure that its decisions are made in the best interest of patients and taxpayers while considering input from providers and members of the public, including those affected by the conditions discussed.
Prior to Thursday’s landmark decision, HERC started conducting reviews on the effectiveness of Gender Dysphoria treatment back in April 2014. Prior to this, HERC had not reviewed treatment for Gender Dysphoria since 1999.
According to the Associated Press, officials have estimated that once coverage begins in January, approximately 175 Medicaid patients will seek treatment for gender dysphoria per year at a cost of less than $150,000.
Thursday's landmark decision can be considered a huge victory for transgender rights. Following Oregon's decision, it's possible that other state's will also start reviewing their own policies regarding the treatment and coverage of transgender patients as well.