By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
The State of Oregon must offer its employees transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage following an out-of-court settlement in Esquivel v. Oregon, in which Lambda Legal argued on behalf of Alec Esquivel (then a state law clerk) that Oregon’s 2007 law prohibits gender identity-based discrimination in healthcare.
The Statesman Journal reports that the Jan. 14 settlement requires the state to scrap policies excluding diagnoses pertaining to gender identity, medication required for “sexual transformation,” and services related to a “sex change operation.”
Public Employees’ Benefits Board Administrator Joan Kapowich says the board will no longer deny care that a doctor decides is medically necessary. In addition to making the policy change, the state will also pay Esquivel $36,000.
Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Jeana Frazinni calls the State’s policy change — as well as other recent trans justice victories — a “huge step forward.” The LGBTQ rights organization has made healthcare access for transgender Oregonians a central focus of its work.
“We are grateful that Alec was willing to step forward in such a public way to share his story and inspire change,” Frazzini says. “We need to build a system of healthcare where every Oregonian can access the care they need to live healthy and productive lives. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and even the Internal Revenue Service have affirmed that transgender inclusive health care is medically necessary. Ending discriminatory exclusions that deny people access to medically necessary care is the right thing to do and reflects Oregon values of fairness.”
The Oregon Insurance Division clarified in December that it is a violation of the 2007 law to engage in anti-trans discriminate in healthcare. TransActive recently announced that the Oregon Health Plan will begin covering gender-related healthcare for children and gender-related mental health services for all ages.
Read the full settlement document here.
PQ is following up on this story. Check back for more details.