by Sam Hieb
News & Observer reports the board of trustees for the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees voted last Friday to remove exclusions that prevented healthcare coverage for sex changes and modifications—if they are deemed medically necessary.
The change in coverage takes effect Jan. 1. Officials said the new benefit complied with federal laws and regulations and “would have risked losing millions of dollars in federal funding and faced discrimination lawsuits for non-compliance,” according to the press secretary for the State Treasurer’s Office.
Outgoing State Treasurer Janet Cowell cast the decisive vote that allowed the motion approving the new plan to pass, but her successor, Treasurer-elect Dale Folwell, said he will take a close look at the legal and financial costs once he takes office:
“I pledged to the people of North Carolina that we would reduce the state health plan’s 32 billion dollar debt, provide a more affordable family premium especially for our lowest paid employees and provide transparency to the taxpayers,” Folwell said in an email. “The provision to pay for sex change operations does none of those three things.”
Folwell, the new treasurer, said he will conduct an investigation after he takes office about “the true legal and financial implications of this provision and report those findings to the citizens of NC who will be paying for it.” He also questioned the timing of the board of trustees vote Friday, because he said health plan staff members “have known about this for months … and chose to present it with less than 72 hours notice to the public.”
The state health plan covers more than 700,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, state hospital staff members and their dependents. As for Obamacare mandates that dictate these change to state health plans—well, in case you haven’t heard—there’s a new sheriff in town…..