FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A University of Arkansas benefits committee that advocates for faculty and staff is asking that gender-transition treatments be reinstated in the employee health care plan.
The request in a March 7 letter came after the University of Arkansas System suspended the coverage, which was briefly offered earlier this year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2np4T6C ) reported. The system oversees a self-funded health care plan enrolling approximately 35,900 employees and family members from Fayetteville and other campuses.
“As a committee, we wholly support the transgender members of our University of Arkansas campus and system and feel as though the situation they face is deeply upsetting. We request that the coverage promised be immediately reinstated,” the letter states.
A Dec. 31 injunction from a Texas judge halted federal enforcement of regulations developed under the Affordable Care Act that prohibited health plans from automatically excluding gender-transition treatments from coverage.
University officials said the coverage that began Jan. 1 was in compliance with the regulations, but that it was suspended after March 6 “given the most current court ruling.” They also said the benefits suspension could continue “pending the final legal outcome of the injunction or further clarification of the ACA coverage guidelines.”
University of Arkansas spokesman Mark Rushing didn’t respond to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s questions about whether campus leadership had taken a position in favor of restoring the benefits.
Sean Cahill, a Boston-based researcher who studies homosexual, bisexual and transgender health policy issues, said covering gender-transition treatments “really doesn’t increase the cost of health care coverage for the general population” because the number of transgender people is small.
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated last year that the U.S. transgender adult population as about 1.4 million of the country’s adult population.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com
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