SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon state Health Plan and its Healthy Kids Program will soon begin covering medically-necessary care for young people experiencing gender dysphoria on Oct. 1, 2014, making Oregon the first state to ensure coverage oftransgender kids under Medicaid.
Beginning October 1, 2014, services covered by the new health care plan will include not only mental health counseling and pediatric evaluation, but also medication, procedures, and follow-up care related to the suppression of puberty, according to Jenn Burleton, Executive Director of Portland-based TransActive, an education and advocacy group that supports transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families.
“Pubertal suppression provides transgender adolescents the option of avoiding unwanted, irreversible, and deeply distressing changes that come with birth-sex pubertal development,” said Burleton, in a statement. “Far too often trans adolescents experience increased suicidal ideation as a result of these changes and the indifference of others about the impact these changes have on trans youth.”
Burleton noted that while such treatments are effective, they can also be prohibitively expensive. Out-of-pocket costs can reach $1,000 a month, putting the lifesaving treatment out of reach of many Oregon families.
“Thanks to this common sense, safe, and medically-recommended action by the Oregon Health Plan, lives will be saved,” Burleton said. “TransActive is extremely grateful to have been able to play a part in this victory.”
The new guidelines will additionally require a comprehensive mental health evaluation and recommends ongoing psychological care for the gender-variant youth.