Madison, WI – Today, The Group Insurance Board (GIB) of Wisconsin is meeting at the Hill Farms State Office Building in Madison to vote on the exclusion of transgender health benefits that was reinstated in February of 2017. This reinstatement came just one month after the exclusion had effectively ended, a swift action that reeked of targeted discrimination.
The GIB “sets policy and oversees the administration of the group health…plans for state employees and retirees and the group health…plans for local employers who choose to offer them.” The exclusion of trans* benefits was approved on the basis that “certain contingencies were met,” namely, invalidation of Health & Human Services rules and a reduction of state premium costs. In a memorandum issued by the State Department on December 29 of 2016, it was shown that HHS “misread” the Affordable Care Act’s Title IX anti-discrimination provisions. The wording of Title IX was then nit-picked, the memo stating that it only prohibited discrimination “‘on the basis of sex,’ not ‘on the basis of sex or gender identity.'”
The exclusion has affected trans* people on both public and private insurance plans. State employees lost all of their trans-related care. For those with employer or exchange plans, coverage became a guessing game at best.
The decision today will affect the 2019 plan year and is attended by transgender people, activists, and advocates. This comes right off the heels of a Federal ruling in favor of two trans* individuals petitioning for coverage of surgeries by their Medicaid plans. On June 25, U.S. District Judge William Conley “granted a preliminary injunction barring enforcement” of Wisconsin’s denial of coverage for transgender surgeries.
According to today’s agenda on Wisconsin’s Employee Trust Funds site, this issue would have been discussed between 10 am and noon, with the day adjourning at 2:45 pm. We will update as this continues to unfold.