Despite a big win last month when both Kaiser and Colorado HealthOp agreed to cover a wide range of services for transgender Coloradans, discrimination persists, particularly against patients seeking publicly funded treatment.
ProPublica reports that uninsured 62-year-old Jennifer Blair of Denver was denied a CDC-funded mammogram last year on the grounds that screenings under the program Women’s Wellness Connection were only available to those born with female genitalia.
“[The] CDC’s position has been that federal funds can only be used to screen clients born as women since the law establishing the program specifically states women,” wrote Jacqueline Miller, who runs the screening program, in a FAQ.
The statement elicited letters from the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality and One Colorado.
“It is concerning when transgender women have higher rates of breast cancer that they can’t get the care they need,” said Ashley Wheeland, Health Policy director at One Colorado. She added that, medically and economically, transgender patients are far more likely to need exactly the kind of care the CDC is currently denying them.
One Colorado recently completed a survey on LGBT health which found that “the uninsured rate for transgender individuals is close to 27 percent, compared to 17 percent of the general population.”
“Transgender folks run into a lot of barriers, both in public and private coverage,” said Wheeland. “This is an example, but it’s a system-wide problem.”
The CDC has yet to respond to One Colorado’s letter.[ Image by Ted Eytan]