December 19, 2014 — A New York Times editorial praises Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for "advanc[ing] the cause of civil rights last week" by barring insurers from denying coverage for medically necessary gender dysphoria treatments, thus "declaring an end to a routine form of discrimination against transgender New Yorkers."
Under the changes, insurers in the state can no longer refuse to cover hormone therapy, gender affirmation surgery and "other steps deemed medically necessary by a doctor for a patient with gender dysphoria," the editorial explains, noting that New York requires health plans to cover "the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders."
According to the Times, the mandate "is unlikely to lead to an increase in insurance premiums" because "very few people choose to have the surgical procedure and the transgender community is a small part of the insurance pool." However, the policy will "relieve hardship and injustice for transgender individuals whose medical needs should be covered on the same basis as everyone else's," the editorial adds.
The editorial notes that the advisory to insurers aligns with other efforts Cuomo has headed "to protect transgender rights," including regulations proposed on Tuesday to cover "medically necessary transgender services and procedures in the state's Medicaid program." In addition, Cuomo in June changed state policy to make it easier "for transgender people to change the gender designation on their birth certificate to conform with their gender identity and expression."
Still, while the steps Cuomo has taken so far "are important," the editorial argues that state law "leaves room for discrimination against transgender people." The Times urges Cuomo to make a "vigorous effort to pass the long-stalled Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act" (A 5039) during the upcoming state legislative session, which would add protections for transgender people to a state law prohibiting "discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations" (New York Times, 12/18).