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Kaiser to cover breast augmentation on transgender women, state says

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan will no longer deny chest reconstruction procedures for transgender women, according to the state.
Elayne Wylie is the interim director of the Gender Justice League.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Following three complaints, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan reversed a policy for transgender patients, according to the State Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

The insurance provider reversed its practice of denying breast augmentation for transgender women, according to a Wednesday press release from the Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

“Transgender people should not be barred from medical treatments because of their gender identity,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “I’m glad the companies ultimately did the right thing to ensure they are treating all transgender individuals fairly.”

The reversal is the result of a state investigation. Earlier this year three patients sought help from the state after they were denied coverage for the procedure, according to the state.

Under an agreement with the state, Kaiser is supposed to review all denials of the treatment since January 2016.

"It feels like a really big victory for anybody in Washington State," said Elayne Wylie, Interim Director of the Gender Justice League.

Her organization filed the complaint with the state on behalf of the original patients.

Wylie said agreeing to cover breast augmentation surgeries removes one of many barriers for the transgender community, enabling them to live more "authentic" lives.

"To be able to live a life that's full and complete," said Wylie, "Where I get to pursue happiness, where I get to have the liberty to live my life the best way I know how."

In a written statement, a Kaiser Permanente spokesperson said the provider is a "nationally-recognized leader in LGBTQ health care equity."

"We are committed to continually improving the care and coverage we provide and will evolve our approach as the field of transgender medicine continues to evolve, informed by the Standards of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, other published guidelines, and the needs of patients. Our goal is always to continually improve the equitable, compassionate, and high-quality care we provide for our transgender and non-binary members."

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