Judge affirms Arizona can no longer exclude gender-affirming care from state health plans
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - On Friday, a U.S. District Court Judge signed off on an agreement allowing Arizona state employees and their dependents to be covered when it comes to gender-affirming care. Dr. Russell Toomey, a University of Arizona Professor, sued to require the state to cover the costs of a hysterectomy in 2019, claiming the procedure was medically necessary due to gender dysphoria.
“Almost five years of intense litigation, that we have finally reached a settlement,” said Christine Wee, a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU. Since 2019, Wee has been working to change the lives of Arizonans. “This case isn’t just about transgender state employees, this case is about all state employees and improving the access of health care for everybody,” she said.
According to Wee, this settlement will make some people’s lives easier, as it requires state employee health insurance plans to cover gender-affirming care. The decision means specific treatments must be seen as medically necessary. “If they do, if they meet that burden, if you will. Then that would be considered a covered expense,” Wee said.
Although Governor Katie Hobbs issued an executive order in June prohibiting state employee health plans from listing gender-affirming care as ineligible for coverage, Wee says this lawsuit permanently bans the state from reversing the order. “When there is another subsequent administration, the exclusion can always be re-introduced. Now the order is permanent, and it has been declared unconstitutional,” Wee said.
She says it’s a win for transgender rights as dependents will also be covered under these changes. “Just completely and immeasurable relief and joy to the transgender community,” she said.
Senate President Warren Petersen provided the following statement:
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