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Advocates react to Illinois Medicaid covering trans healthcare

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CHICAGO — Transgender health advocates celebrated Illinois Medicaid covering transition-related healthcare this past weekend.

Advocates from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Center on Halsted, Equality Illinois, Howard Brown Health, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the TransLife Care Program of Chicago House and Social Service Agency, welcomed the revision of the Medicaid regulation.

A proposed rule by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), was first released earlier last summer. That proposed rule passed the final step in the Illinois rulemaking process being published on January 3, 2020. The rule is being put into effect retroactively for December 23, 2019. This codification takes place after the updated regulation cleared the last hurdle of approval from the State’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

“A patient, working with their provider, should have access to life-saving medical care with no interruption or delay because of insurance coverage,” said Magda Houlberg, Chief Clinical Officer for Howard Brown Health, in a statement from the coalition of advocates. “Our organizations will continue working to ensure that providers and managed care plans understand this rule and that patients are able to access medically necessary care. Medicaid is a life line for thousands of Illinoisans, and now trans and gender nonconforming people will have better access to essential medical care.”

“I’m so relieved that I can finally look forward to feeling like myself, my whole self,” said Camillaa Lockett, a community member and a client at Howard Brown Health. “I could not afford the surgery that I need on my own. I’ve had Medicaid for a few years but have not tried to get surgery because I thought I wouldn’t get the coverage I need.”

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