Board votes to again cover gender identity-related health services for state employees

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

The board that controls state employees’ health benefits has voted to again cover gender identity-related benefits and services.

The vote comes after the Group Insurance Board opted to do so in July 2016, before rolling back the call in early 2017.

Wednesday’s narrow 5-4 decision comes as the Department of Employee Trust Funds in a memo earlier this month wrote that the “legal landscape regarding transgender health care and transgender rights generally has developed” in the two years since the GIB originally took up the issue.

“In addition, coverage by other employers has changed, and the Board has received a considerable amount of correspondence regarding the lack of coverage,” continued the memo, which was included as part of the meeting materials.

The memo also noted UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, as well as chancellors from five other UW-System schools, had requested the GIB add gender reassignment benefits to the State Group Health Insurance Program.

They noted in a letter the lack of benefits “jeopardizes our ability to attract top academic and research talent and puts us at a serious disadvantage retaining our LGBTQ employees.”

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, which has previously argued against the coverage, didn’t return a request for comment.

The five GBI members who voted in favor were: Chair Michael Farrell, Vice Chair Stacey Rolston, Secretary Herschel Day, and guv appointees Charles Grapentine and Nancy Thompson, Department of Employee Trust Funds spokesman Mark Lamkins said.

The additional coverage for state employees will go into effect Jan. 1, per Lamkins.

See the ETF meeting notes:
http://etf.wi.gov/boards/agenda-items-2018/gib0822/item6a1.pdf

See past coverage of the topic from WisBusiness.com:
http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=383797

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