Huckleberries Online

Medicare lifts ban on sex-change surgery coverage

SAN FRANCISCO - Transgender people receiving Medicare may no longer be automatically denied coverage for sex reassignment surgeries, a U.S. Department of Health and Services review board ruled Friday in a groundbreaking decision that recognizes the procedures as a medically necessary and effective treatment for individuals who do not identify with their biological sex.

Ruling in favor of a 74-year-old Army veteran whose request to have Medicare pay for her genital reconstruction was denied two years ago, the agency’s Departmental Appeals Board ruled that a three-decade-old HHS rule excluding such surgeries from the procedures covered by the national health program for the elderly and disabled was unjustified.

“Sometimes I am asked aren’t I too old to have surgery. My answer is how old is too old?” the veteran, Denee Mallon, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, said in an email interview before the board issued its decision. “When people ask if I am too old, it feels like they are implying that it’s a ‘waste of money’ to operate at my age. But I could have an active life ahead of me for another 20 years. And I want to spend those years in congruence and not distress.” More here.

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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.




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