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Maryland School Board bans ‘political’ LGBTQ+ flag calling it ‘gateway’

ANNAPOLIS — A bill that would require Maryland’s Medicaid program to provide coverage for gender-affirming treatment for transgender people passed a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday.

The House Health and Government Operations Committee passed the Trans Health Equity Act of 2022 by a 14-8 vote margin. It will move up to the House floor next week for consideration.

Lawmakers who have sponsored the bill include State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), who believes the committee’s vote is “a promising step in the right direction.”

“It has been eight years since we passed legal protections prohibiting discrimination against trans people in employment, housing, public housing and credit,” she said in a letter. electronics at the Washington Blade. “We are about to strengthen these fundamental economic civil rights with the passage of a bill that protects the public health and safety of all LGBTQ people.”

Washington also added that the bill will remove barriers within the Medicaid program to cover the full range of gender-affirming treatments and procedures for low-income people.

According to the revised version of the bill budget and policy noteMedicaid would be required to cover individual procedures ranging from less than $800 for voice therapy to more than $25,000 for facial feminization or masculinization surgeries.

This would increase Medicaid spending by $52,743 for people transitioning from male to female and $52,493 for people transitioning from female to male. The bill would also increase the number of Medicaid enrollees seeking treatment to 25 people per year, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

Ahead of the vote, the Blade spoke to activists who attended a Thursday rally in Annapolis in support of the Trans Health Equity Act.

Trans Maryland, Annapolis Pride and Baltimore Safe Haven, among other advocacy groups, organized the rally.

“It was a beautiful expression of resilience and trans pride at a time when so many states are attacking trans rights,” said Sam Williamson, a Skadden Fellow for the Homeless Representation Project, which provides free legal services to low-income people who are homeless. or at risk of homelessness.

“This bill will save lives and bring Maryland Medicaid up to date with leading medical standards for gender-affirming care,” they said.

Other activists also expressed confidence in the bill’s future, given its previous success in the Senate.

“I feel good about having passed the Senate, which is usually the hardest chamber to get out,” said CP Hoffman, director of policy at FreeState Justice, an organization that provides legal services and policy advocacy to citizens. trans people in the state. .

Hoffman is also an attorney and a member of the Maryland State Bar Association.

“Usually I try to stay cautiously optimistic with all bills until they’ve passed all chambers,” they added.

The optimism among state advocacy groups is not blind.

Legal action will be imminent if Republican Gov. Larry Hogan does not sign the bill.

“We are considering filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and filing a federal action for discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act,” Hoffman said.

In the past, FreeState Justice has helped pass comprehensive state non-discrimination laws in favor of LGBTQ healthcare provisions.

In 2020, he helped overturn an archaic state law that prohibited nursing homes and hospitals from discriminating based on race or national identity, but not sexuality. It also had health insurance non-discrimination rules under the Affordable Care Act enshrined in state law so that health insurers could not discriminate based on orientation. gender, gender identity, race, national origin, and sex, among other markers of identity.

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