HHS withdraws plan to consider coverage of sex-change operations

The Health and Human Services Department said early Friday that it would accept public comments on whether to reexamine its decision not to cover sex changes.

But a spokesperson said Friday evening that the proposal has been withdrawn. HHS pulled information from its website Friday after various news media outlets reported on the issue.

ADVERTISEMENT
The controversial decision to consider using taxpayer money to cover sex changes was sure to attract criticism from Congress.

An HHS spokesman said HHS' Departmental Appeals Board is weighing a challenge to the department's ruling that sex-change procedures are experimental and should not be covered by Medicare and Medicaid. While that challenge works its way through the system, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has withdrawn its proposal to reconsider the coverage policy on its own.

“An administrative challenge to our 1981 Medicare national coverage determination concerning sex reassignment surgery was just filed," a spokesperson said Friday. "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.”

Neither Medicare nor Medicaid currently covers sex changes. The policy was adopted in 1981, based on a determination that the procedures are experimental.

— This post was updated at 10:14 p.m.