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New York Panel Wants Taxpayers to Foot the Bill for Gender Reassignment Surgery

A state panel advising New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants taxpayers to foot the bill for transgender residents to get "sexual reassignment surgery," allowing them to change their physical characteristics from a man to a woman or woman to man, The New York Post reported Thursday.

"Provide Medicaid coverage for transgender surgery/hormone replacement therapy and treatment," read the proposal submitted by the state's health disparities work group.

The panel is submitting recommendations to Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team for possible inclusion in the governor's budget plan.

A state Health Department spokesman confirmed that requiring Medicaid to cover gender reassignment surgery is being considered.

"Medicaid doesn't cover the surgery," said the department's Jeff Gordon. "This issue is under review by the Medicaid Redesign Team."

The proposal -- coming just months after Cuomo won national attention for steering a gay-marriage law through the state legislature -- came under fire from the political right.

"This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars," said state Conservative Party chairman Mike Long.

Long insisted sex-change procedures are cosmetic and encourage permissiveness, adding, "I hope the governor doesn't push the envelope on this."

"It doesn't seem to be appropriate," said Republican Senate Health Committee Chairman, Kemp Hannon.

But supporters of transgender surgery said New York will be hard pressed to continue to bar what health experts -- including the American Medical Association -- now call "medically necessary" procedures to help patients with "gender identity disorder."

Barring Medicaid coverage to transgender people amounts to discrimination, advocates have maintained.

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