SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WEEK) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has ordered the state’s Medicaid program to begin covering the costs of sex reassignment surgeries for transgender people.
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will develop administrative rules to offer coverage to people diagnosed with gender dysphoria to pay for genital and breast-related surgeries.
“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and I’m committed to ensuring our LGBTQ community and all Illinoisans have access to that right,” said Pritzker. “Expanding Medicaid to cover gender affirming surgeries is cost effective, helps avoid long term health consequences, and most importantly is the right thing to do. With continued attacks coming from Washington, this administration will always stand with our transgender community and their right to lead safe and healthy lives.”
The department said paying for the surgeries will help stave off negative health effects, such as depression and suicide. The HFS said 17 states and Washington, D.C. offer coverage for the surgeries without a significant cost increase.
The ACLU of Illinois hailed the decision to cover sex reassignment surgeries.
“We welcome Governor Pritzker’s announcement that Illinois will cover gender affirming surgery under its Medicaid program. This is a crucial step to respond to the health care needs of all Illinois residents, including those who are transgender,” said John Knight, LGBTQ and HIV Advocacy Director for the ACLU of Illinois. “By putting an end to this outdated exclusion on gender affirming surgery, Illinois now joins a long and growing list of states providing coverage for this critical, life-saving health care. We applaud the Governor for making this important step forward.”
The rule is likely to go into effect this summer.