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Oct 5, 2016 6:59 PM

Manchester aldermen vote in favor of adding transgender operations to health plan


MANCHESTER — Aldermen on the Manchester Human Resources committee voted 3-2 in favor of changing language in the city’s medical plan, to accommodate transgender health services.

If approved by the full board at the end of the month, it would mean that gender reassignment surgery would be covered by the city’s Anthem plan.

Human Resources Director Jane Gile send a memo to the board, recommending the city ask Anthem to ‘remove transgender exclusions or limitations’.

Gile said the city is responsible for being in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. If the city opts out of the changes, federal discrimination laws may come into play.

The changes would add $.80 to $1.10 per member, per month, according to Gile’s memo.

“It’s not like it’s an outrageous amount of money, it’s healthcare. And our insurance companies are capable of covering it,” said Gerri Cannon of Freedom NH, an organization that fights for transgender rights.

Bill Shea is one of the alderman who voted against the changes, but Tuesday he told NH1 News it was because he wanted more information and ideally, a presentation from Anthem. Ultimately he supports it, he said.

Committee Chair Keith Hirschmann also voted against the change and questioned whether it would lead to cosmetic procedures being covered, like liposuction or breast augmentation.

“I realize that we live in a day and age that there are such individuals that are transgender and I don’t begrudge them having operations or deciding to elect for that type of surgery on their own, but I don’t think the Manchester tax payers should pay for it in any way,” Hirschmann said.

If approved, the changes would go into effect July 1, 2017.

Hirschmann said there’s no rush to make a decision, because the national health care laws could change after the presidential election.

“On January 22 the Affordable Care Act could be repealed,” Hirschmann said.

But Cannon argued being transgender is not a choice and the services should not be considered elective.

“It’s not the same as breast augmentation or liposuction, this is a life concerning issue, someone who is denied it may commit suicide. They may go on drugs because they can’t cope with life,” Cannon said.

The full board is expected to address the request at the end of the month.

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