Big Health Wins Last Week! For Same-Sex Medicaid protections & Trans Veterans Health

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate

We’d like to highlight some very big health wins for same-sex couples and transgender people from the last week. We feel that it’s very important to major wins, so they aren’t lost and we want to acknowledge the great work LGBT advocates and these government agencies are taking to include LGBT people in their healthcare. These issues may not affect everyone in our community, but they drastically support the lives and wellbeing of many members of our community, and that’s worth bragging about.

1) Obama extends protections to gay couples under Medicaid!

The Obama administration is set on Friday to issue policy guidance to states expanding their ability to offer same-sex couples the same protections afforded to straight couples when they receive long-term care under Medicaid, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively.

Under the new guidance, dated June 10, states have the option to allow healthy partners in a same-sex relationship to keep their homes while their partners are receiving support for long-term care under Medicaid, such as care in a nursing home.

As you know the Department of Health & Human Services had been examining ways to offer more protections to same-sex couples under Medicaid as part of the work it has undertaken for LGBT people, but until now hadn’t issued the policy guidance to states.

2) Big Health Win for Transgender Veterans

On June 10th, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) issued a Directive to all of its facilities establishing a policy of respectful delivery of healthcare to transgender and intersex veterans who are enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system or are otherwise eligible for VA care.

The new directive does several things:

  • Indicates that all VA staff must provide care to transgender patients “without discrimination in a manner consistent with care and management of all Veteran patients.”
  • Clearly states that all personal information about transgender status and medical care is kept confidential.
  • Reiterates that under existing regulations sex reassignment surgery cannot be performed or paid for by the VA.
  • Reiterates that all other medically necessary healthcare for transgender veterans is covered, including sex-specific care like mammograms and pap smears, as well as transition-related care such as hormones and mental health services.

NCTE has created a guide to the new policy and announces the news on their website.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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