This week saw Portland Mayor Sam Adams bring forth and unanimously pass an ordinance granting inclusive health care for transgender City of Portland employees.
This change will allow for health insurance coverage for the treatment of gender identity disorder, including any surgeries that may be needed to complete gender transition.
“To the trans community of Portland, who each and every day makes this city a better place, it is my honor and privilege to serve on a city council that can bring an ounce of fairness in return,” Mayor Adams said. All Commissioners offered passionate commentary. Commissioner Amanda Fritz said: “I appreciate living in a city and serving on a City Council where we look at what is the right thing to do…even though it may not be politically popular.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has identified transgender health care as being medically necessary. In 2008, the AMA passed a resolution supporting public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder and opposing the “exclusions of coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder when prescribed by a physician.” The City already provides coverage for all employees (including transgender employees) for prescription medications, office visits and mental health treatments and other benefits. To truly provide medically necessary benefits that meet the needs of the City’s transgender employees, this recommendation adds coverage for the services required to complete gender transition.
Commissioner Nick Fish said: “This City does not discriminate; it does not make judgments about people’s status. I believe today is a leadership moment, with the mayor leading us effectively on this issue and I am proud, as a member of this community, to vote aye.”
The cost projection for adding gender reassignment treatment remains low, with the Portlander quoting estimations that at $32,302 out of a total $41,615,000 CityCore Cost Projection for 2011-12, the change will result in just a .08 percent increase.
This move puts Portland among a select few number of jurisdictions to offer such inclusive healthcare plans for trans citizens. These include Multnomah County and San Francisco, with Seattle currently debating whether to offer similar benefits. It is estimated that 22% of Fortune 100 Companies offer inclusive healthcare for trans employees.
In other LGBT health care news, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is eying coming tax reform legislation to move his own tax bill that would help tackle the inequity same-sex couples face in employer-provided health care benefits. Read more on that here.