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This morning, I was so pleased to offer this testimony in support of S. 596, An Act Relative to Trans-Inclusive Health Care Access. I introduced this bill in partnership with Representative Natalie Higgins and Representative Christine Barber, who filed H. 1037. I also had the opportunity to speak in support of S. 595, An Act to strengthen the control of contagious or infectious diseases in the Commonwealth which I introduced in partnership with Representative Mindy Domb, who filed H. 993.

My testimony appears below:

On gender-affirming care

Gender-affirming care is lifesaving, life-affirming health care. 

Despite this importance, people who identify as transgender or gender diverse – consistently – face barriers to accessing health care: prohibitive costs, lack of culturally competent providers, and bureaucratic hoops created by insurance companies. 

Insurance coverage for gender-affirming care services is subject to additional prior authorization requirements. Currently, many insurers require two letters from two separate health care providers, at least one of which must be a mental health professional.

Mindful of health care provider shortages, cost, and unnecessary barriers to care, this bill would require insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care upon receipt of one letter from a qualified mental health professional, bringing state law into alignment with the accepted standard from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

For what other health-related issue do we require two separate letters, from two different providers, to prove a medical necessity? 

Recently, a growing number of states are moving to ban gender-affirming care and pursue anti-LGBT legislation. Hateful rhetoric, which until recently was generally focused on care for children, is now expanding to attack adult care. 

It is vital, now more than ever, that Massachusetts lead by advancing legislation that affirms gender-affirming care, that addresses some of the unfair barriers that trans and gender-diverse people face when accessing healthcare.

On control of contagious or infectious diseases 

This bill authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health to designate select contagious and infectious diseases as being of heightened public health importance. Following that designation, insurers may not impose cost sharing or utilization review on any health care service for the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of those designated diseases.

My team worked on this bill with GLAD – GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. GLAD agrees that insurance costs or coverage delays should never be a barrier to controlling the spreading of infectious diseases.

I will submit written testimony on this bill and the trans health bill, and urge the Committee to report both bills favorably as well. 

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