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Published On: Thu, Jun 5th, 2014

Obama administration moves ahead to approve sex change coverage for Medicare patients

Taxpayers may be flipping the bill for seniors to get sex-change operations as the  Departmental Appeals Board  of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lifted a three-decade-old ban on using Medicare funds for transsexual surgeries.

photo Marcus Werthmann

photo Marcus Werthmann

The decision means the government considers the surgeries medically necessary and effective treatment for some individuals who do not identify with their biological sex. The decision The gives authority to 15 regional contractors who administer the Medicare program to decide whether sex-change surgeries will be covered in their territories.

“The national policy barring Medicare from covering gender transition surgery has been invalidated,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright in an e-mail to CNN.

“As with all such determinations, CMS will carry out this independent board’s ruling through Medicare Administrative Contractors, who manage Medicare claims payment systems. These contractors may cover this care case-by-case or under a local coverage determination based on clinical evidence to determine medical appropriateness,” added Albright, whose agency administers Medicare and Medicaid.

Gender reassignment surgeries vary by type and scope: For men, they can involve castration and genital reconstruction. For women, they can involve mastectomy and the implantation of a prosthetic. The cost of transsexual surgeries range from $7,000 to $50,000, according to the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, Calif.
 
In explaining its decision, the appeals board said the old ban on sex reassignment surgery was based on medical evidence compiled in 1981 and said new research showed the ban was “no longer reasonable.” Rather, it called the surgery “safe” and an “effective treatment option.” It noted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service did not try to challenge its decision, which is final unless appealed in federal court.
 
The Boston-based organization Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders hailed the board’s decision, calling transsexual surgery “medically necessary for many people with gender dysphoria.” The advocacy group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, helped citizens fight the ban beginning last year.
 
 
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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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