Illinois expands Medicaid coverage for trans and gender-nonconforming residents

Fri. April 5, 2019 3:43 PM by News Staff

Springfield, IL - Illinois' Medicaid program will begin covering gender affirming surgeries for transgender individuals.

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 Gov. J.B. 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.

"For those facing gender dysphoria, every day can be a painful challenge," said Theresa Eagleson, director of HFS. "Helping these individuals overcome their struggles through compassionate and comprehensive treatment is the right approach for them and for Illinois."

AIDS Foundation of Chicago hailed the state's decision.

"Today, Illinois took another critical step toward treating transgender people with dignity and respect by recognizing that their health care needs must be affirmed and fulfilled," said John Peller, president/CEO of AFC. "Low-income trans Illinoisans — some of the most vulnerable people in the state — will finally be able to get the medically-necessary health care services that are their right." 

The administrative rule is likely to go into effect this summer.