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May 27, 2017

Equality NC Supports Medicaid Reform in North Carolina

Post Submitted by Ames Simmons, Director of Transgender Policy

Yesterday Equality NC and National Center for Transgender Equality submitted public comment to the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services in response to the Department’s solicitation for input regarding Medicaid reform in our state. Equality NC and NCTE signed the letter along with fourteen co-signers, including: El Centro Hispano, Inc., Latino Commission on AIDS, Charlotte Pride, NC Council of Churches, LGBT Center of Raleigh, Campaign for Southern Equality, North Carolina AIDS Action Network, NC Women United, NARAL Pro-Choice NC, Jessica Schorr Saxe, MD, Terry Soffer, North Carolina Justice Center, Health Care Justice--NC, and NC National Organization for Women.

Equality NC’s comments highlighted the need for Medicaid reform in light of health disparities faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community generally, and by the transgender community in particular. LGBTQ people continue to be uninsured at higher rates than the non-LGBTQ population because we are disproportionately likely to be low-income. We are likely highly represented among the 500,000 North Carolinians who have been left behind in our state’s coverage gap. All North Carolinians should have access to high-quality and affordable health care. Therefore, we urged DHHS to expand NC Medicaid to cover low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act.

The 45,000 transgender people in North Carolina need acute care when we are sick, and preventive care to keep from becoming sick. In addition, many trans people need access to medically necessary care related to gender transition. NC Medicaid does not expressly exclude healthcare services needed for gender transition. Given overwhelming medical consensus of medical necessity and the need to improve quality of care for trans North Carolinians, we urged DHHS to adopt an affirmative clinical coverage policy for transition-related care.

These changes will help meet the stated goals of DHHS by improving physical and mental health, by improving the quality of care and increasing access to care. Equality NC will continue to look for opportunities to promote health equity for LGBTQ people in North Carolina.

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