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Appeals Court Rules State Insurance Must Cover Transgender Health Care

Health insurance plans: Common types and their benefits

Appeals Court Rules State Insurance Must Cover Transgender Health Care

An appeals court has mandated that state insurance cover transgender health care. The ruling from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals states that North Carolina and West Virginia’s health insurance plans must include coverage for gender-affirming care. Transgender advocates view this decision as a significant win, particularly amid increasing bills targeting transgender rights in state legislatures.

The cases involved North Carolina state employees and dependents as well as West Virginians on Medicaid, both facing barriers to accessing gender-affirming treatments. The court’s decision, reached with an 8-6 majority, deems the denial of coverage discriminatory.

West Virginia’s Attorney General intends to challenge the ruling, citing a need to take the case to the Supreme Court. However, advocates like Tara Borelli from Lambda Legal view the ruling as a victory against discrimination in health care. The policies have already been adjusted following earlier lower court decisions in favor of transgender patients.

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With the appeals court’s decision, Borelli emphasizes the significance of this ruling as a precedent for other states. Lawyers for North Carolina and West Virginia argued that coverage denials aimed to save taxpayer money rather than show bias.

Borelli points out that appealing to the Supreme Court would incur further taxpayer costs. The Supreme Court’s recent actions on transgender issues have been mixed, allowing Idaho’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors while declining to hear other cases related to transgender students’ rights in schools.

Interestingly, the Biden administration recently issued a regulation bolstering protections against discrimination for transgender patients nationwide, not just for gender-related care but all health care situations. Despite this, a coalition of Republican-led states has vowed to challenge this regulation in court.

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