Illinois governor changes state’s Medicaid policy to cover sex reassignment surgery

Asheville, North Carolina, USA - April 2, 2016: Crowd holds signs, waves symbolic flags, and protests the new North Carolina HB2 Law that restricts the rights of those who are gay or transgender on April 2, 2016 in downtown Ashevile, NC

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — On April 5 Governor Pritzker said the state’s Medicaid program will soon cover sex reassignment surgery, IL News reports.

The proposed rule would allow Medicaid members diagnosed with gender dysphoria to be eligible for genital and breast-related surgery.

Treatment for gender dysphoria can include hormone therapy. When someone transitions, they often take hormones to either develop secondary male characteristics or help change their musculature, skin and fat distribution, according to the Washington Post. The hormones also reduce the dysphoria transgender people struggle with. After a month or so of hormone therapy their brains and bodies begin aligning.

Surgery includes refashioning delicate reproductive organs to match the patient’s desired gender. According to the Washington Post, male-to-female genital surgery is easier and less expensive than female-to-male. Additional cosmetic surgeries like mastectomies or plastic surgery help some who transition, though its unclear if Pritzker’s rule change will cover cosmetic surgeries.

About 1,400 of Illinois’ 3.1 million Medicaid members are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, IL News reports. Last year, about 2,500 prescriptions for hormone therapy were covered.

Money for the expanded coverage will come from state and federal funds, though the governor’s office hasn’t said what the change will cost.

Coverage could be available starting this summer after a public comment period.

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