California’s Medi-Cal program is expanding to cover gender-affirming care and health services for illegal immigrants, costing taxpayers an estimated $3.1 billion.
The program now includes coverage for procedures and hormone therapy related to gender transition.
This move comes as the state experiences an increase in undocumented immigrants, with nearly 700,000 individuals between 26 and 49 becoming eligible for these services. (Trending: U.S. State Passes Personal Pronoun Ban)
Medi-Cal covers the costs for hormone therapy and procedures, “that bring primary and secondary gender characteristics into conformity with the individual’s identified gender, including ancillary services, such as hair removal, incident to those services,” according to an internal memo.
“Gender affirming care is a covered Medi-Cal benefit when medically necessary,” read the memo.
“Requests for gender affirming care should be from specialists experienced in providing culturally competent care to transgender and gender diverse individuals and should use nationally recognized guidelines,” it continued.
“Services shall be recommended by treating licensed mental health professionals and physicians and surgeons experienced in treating patients with incongruence between their gender identity and gender assigned at birth,” it explained.
The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has emphasized the importance of providing access to healthcare for all, regardless of immigration status.
Gov. Newsom’s office wrote, “In California, we believe everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care coverage — regardless of income or immigration status,” in a statement.
“Through this expansion, we’re making sure families and communities across California are healthier, stronger and able to get the care they need when they need it,” it continued.
This expansion builds upon previous efforts to include undocumented children and adults in the Medi-Cal program since 2015.