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Complaint: Wisconsin transgender researcher denied coverage

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A transgender researcher has filed a complaint against the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Wisconsin and an insurance company for denying her coverage of gender confirmation surgery.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Shannon Andrews, a cancer researcher at the medical school, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The complaint names the school and the Group Insurance Board, which oversees state workers’ health benefits for through the state Department of Employee Trust Funds. One of the companies that provide health insurance to state workers, Monona-based WPS Insurance, is also named in the suit.

ACLU says state worker health benefits include health care related to sex hormones and surgery associated with gender reassignment.

The board approved ending its exclusion of services and benefits related to sex transformation or gender reassignment on July 12, effective January 2017. A board document shows that the board’s lawyers recommended the change after the federal government issued final regulations regarding a portion of the Affordable Care Act related to discrimination in May.

ACLU says the policy change “comes too late” for Andrews, but didn’t say why. Andrews couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Notwithstanding the medical community’s agreement about the medical necessity of treatment for some transgender individuals, many employers continue to offer health insurance coverage that specifically targets transgender people and denies them coverage for life-saving medical care,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director for ACLU of Wisconsin. “These exclusions arbitrarily target transgender people for discrimination by forcing them to pay out-of-pocket for medically necessary services.”

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