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Wisconsin Medicaid will begin covering gender reassignment surgery today

The decision comes in response to a federal judge declaring that it's 'unconstitutional' to exclude such surgeries from taxpayer-funded health care

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After months of legal wrangling, Wisconsin's Medicaid program will begin covering gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for transgender patients as of today.

Wisconsin's Group Insurance Board voted to begin covering gender reassignment surgery in 2016, but reversed itself after former Gov. Scott Walker asked them to reconsider. The reversal led to a series of legal challenges, and a judge ruled in September that the exclusion on transgender therapies was discriminatory as a matter of law. In October, two transgender plaintiffs were awarded $720,000 in damages by a Wisconsin jury after they sued over the exclusions.

In response to the judge's decision, the Group Insurance Board reversed itself again and announced that it would begin covering gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy effective Jan. 1, 2019.

The issue of Medicaid coverage for transgender surgeries remains unsettled throughout the country. A number of states, including California, New York, and Colorado, have policies in place that specifically state that gender reassignment surgery is covered under Medicaid where it is deemed "medically necessary." A number of other states have policies that specifically exclude gender reassignment surgery from coverage, while several states still have no specific policy at all.

Medicaid is a taxpayer-funded health coverage program for low-income individuals, and Medicaid policies often vary state to state. Medicaid is funded with a mix of federal and state taxpayer dollars.

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