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State of Minnesota: Healthcare Plans Cannot Exclude Coverage for Transgender Health Services


*OutFront Minnesota, Rainbow Health Initiative, MN Transgender Health Coalition, MN Transgender Insurance Taskforce issue a Joint Press Release*


Contact: Jennifer Houston


December 1, 2015 (Minneapolis)— The Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health have released a bulletin stating that health plans subject to their jurisdiction may not exclude coverage for services related to a person’s gender transition. This announcement culminates nearly two years of work on this effort by many, including Rainbow Health Initiative, MN Transgender Health Coalition, the University of Minnesota’s Program in Human Sexuality, MN Transgender Insurance Taskforce and OutFront Minnesota. Minnesota is the thirteenth jurisdiction in the country to make a statement on this subject.

The inability to access appropriate health care is a major stressor for transgender Minnesotans of all ages, and can contribute for many to a sense of hopelessness and despair. “Unnecessary barriers to insurance coverage harm families, and interfere with providers by requiring them to engage in layers of advocacy so their patients can access the care their insurance policies should be covering,” says Dylan Flunker, member of the MN Transgender Health Insurance Taskforce. Rainbow Health Initiative’s Voices of Health survey shows that over 16% of transgender individuals experienced discrimination from their health care providers in the last year. RHI's Executive Director, Joann Usher, states, "every week RHI and the other partners in this effort receive calls from trans individuals who have lost hope that they will ever receive the care that they need and deserve because they have received yet another insurance claim denial. This bulletin will hopefully reduce the number of denials and provide us with one more tool in our appeals toolkit.”

The Affordable Care Act, under which MNSure was ultimately created, bars discrimination in covered contexts on the basis of transgender status as a form of sex discrimination. Minnesota law has barred discrimination against transgender people since 1993, and in 2012, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights agreed that where a University’s student health plan contained such an exclusion, the plan violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act. “That discrimination complaint, and the many insurance appeals we have worked on over the years, have shown the ongoing need for clarity in the law regarding transgender-specific health coverage,” says OutFront Minnesota Legal Director Phil Duran. “While this policy does not address all issues transgender people face in this area, it sends a powerful message to all insurers that they must take transgender health concerns seriously.”

As a collective voice of organizations, we will work together to ensure that all transgender individuals are able to access health care coverage, and that health insurers abide by ACA and human rights laws and regulations.

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About OutFront Minnesota
OutFront Minnesota is the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) organization. OutFront’s mission is to create a state where LGBTQ people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. They deliver programs and services to Minnesota's LGBTQ and allied communities in the areas of community organizing, public policy, anti-violence and crime victim services, law and education and training. OutFront works with more than 70,000 champions of equality to create positive change in our communities, workplaces, schools, places of worship, and state and local government. www.outfront.org
Contact: Jennifer Houston, Director, External Affairs

About Rainbow Health Initiative
Rainbow Health Initiative advances health equity for LGBTQ communities through research, education, and advocacy. RHI collects statewide and national LGBTQ health data via “Voices of Health”, an annual community health assessment, and uses this data to largely inform RHI’s education and advocacy efforts. This year, RHI has released a report on the 2013 MN Student Survey (“Invisible Youth”), created an online LGBTQ Provider Directory in partnership with the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, published an online Patient Toolkit, and is currently working on facilitating the Standards of Inclusion Board for LGBTQ inclusion in health and human services.
Contact: Joann Usher, Executive Director joann.usher@rainbowhealth.org

About MN Transgender Insurance Taskforce
The Minnesota Transgender Health Insurance Taskforce is a coalition of advocates, providers, and community members committed to improving healthcare for trans and gender nonconforming Minnesotans. Achieving full insurance coverage for all gender related health care, including hormones, psychotherapy, and surgery, for all Minnesotans is our mission. Contact: Katie Spencer, PhD at the U of M Program in Human Sexuality, mntransinsurancetaskforce@gmail.com or 612-626-8755

About MN Transgender Health Coalition
The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition is committed to improving health care access and the quality of health care received by trans and gender non-conforming people through education, resources, and advocacy. Contact: Peek Ehlinger, Board Chair, liz.ehlinger@gmail.com


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