MD House and Senate Approve Trans Health Equity Act
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Both chambers of the Maryland legislature have passed a bill that would require the state's Medicaid program to cover gender affirming care.
While some gender affirming treatments are currently covered by Medicaid, the Trans Health Equity Act would expand coverage to all forms of gender affirming treatment that are consistent with current clinical standards.
Last year - the Williams Institute at the University of California, LA - estimated there are 24,000 Transgender Marylanders.
The legislation was introduced in the House by state Del. Anne Kaiser - D-Montgomery County - and she said she sees it as telling Trans Marylanders they are part of the community.
"I like to think," said Kaiser, "that this legislation tells trans Marylanders, as I said at the hearing on Valentine's Day, 'We love you, you are welcome here, you are our neighbors, you're our friends, you belong, you're welcome' - which is obviously quite different from what is happening in some other states."
An amendment put forward on Friday by state Del. Mark Fisher - R-Calvert County - would have prevented Medicaid from providing gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers, to qualified patients under age 18.
Supporters of the amendment believe the science surrounding puberty blockers is not settled, but the amendment was rejected after an hour of debate.
The current standard of care in medicine including in Maryland allows children to access gender affirming care with the approval of parents and doctors.
Each bill will now be considered by the opposite chamber before going to the governor.
A similar bill passed the Senate last year but failed in the House. This time around supporters include Gov. Wes Moore - who, Kaiser said, is in favor of the measure.
"The governor spoke in favor of this legislation by name during the campaign and put out supportive documentation at the time," said Kaiser. "I spoke with his staff at the time and so we've connected with him now he's ready to sign the bill into law. "
If signed into law, the bill would take effect October 1.
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