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Health Department: Medicare Won’t Cover Sex-Change Operations

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File photo of an IV in an operation room. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of an IV in an operation room. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — According to a recent decision handed down by the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare will still not cover sex-change surgeries, despite initial plans to reconsider the matter.

Late last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they would contemplate coverage of gender reassignment surgeries.

However, other officials reportedly decided on Friday not to federally fund the procedure or even discuss the matter further.

“An administrative challenge to our … national coverage determination concerning sex reassignment surgery was just filed,” an HHS spokesperson told The Hill. “This administrative challenge is being considered and working its way through the proper administrative channels. In light of the challenge, we are no longer re-opening the national coverage determination for reconsideration.”

The initial decision not to cover the surgery was made over 30 years ago, when it was referred to as “transsexual surgery” and deemed an “experimental” procedure, Medical Daily learned.

Since 1981, however, the operation has become far more commonplace. Medical Daily additionally found that the American Medical Association voiced support of public and private coverage of sex-change operations in 2008.

Consideration of the matter was supposed to last until the end of April, MedPage Today learned.

The initial request for a policy change came from a letter penned by Portland, Ore., resident Emily Pittman Newberry.

“These medical procedures and treatment protocols are not experimental,” she wrote. “[D]ecades of both clinical experience and medical research show they are essential to achieving well-being for the transsexual patient.”

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