Last week, Oregon state officials voted to ensure the state’s low-income transgender residents have access to transition-related care.

The Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) has not reviewed its treatment of transgender care since the late 1990s. The 13-member board reviewed the material and decided to add gender dysphoria – defined as a condition in which “people whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with” –  to the state’s list of conditions that require government-funded treatments. As of 2015, low-income transgender residents of Oregon will have access to gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy if they want it.

“Removing transgender exclusions in healthcare coverage saves lives and money,” said Danielle Askini, Basic Rights Oregon’s policy director. “All major health provider associations agree: It is time to end health coverage discrimination based on gender identity.”

This change follows a ruling earlier this summer by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Departmental Appeals Board that stated transgender people cannot be automatically denied coverage for transition-related health care. Oregon estimates the new rules will be utilized by about 175 people per year, and will cost the state less than $150,000 in that period. Individuals will need to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria in order to qualify for coverage.

According to The Oregonian, 935,000 people are currently enrolled in Oregon’s Medicaid program. In 2013, some services for transgender people were added to the Oregon Health Plan, including therapy and medical visits.

Media Resources: RH Reality Check 8/15/2014; The Oregonian 8/14/2014; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

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