Medicare Will Likely Start Covering Sex-Change Operations

WASHINGTON - MAY 20: Members of GetEQUAL, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, stage a protest on Capitol Hill May 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. Activists call on Democratic congressional leaders to keep their promise to schedule a vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this legislative year.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Medicare recipients who want sex-reassignment surgery might be able to get the government to pay for it after a ruling today from the U.S. Department of Health and Services review board. The rule change, which lifts the coverage ban on sex-reassignment surgery, will allow patients to apply for authorization for a procedure now recognized as medically necessary treatment for transgender people. So, for Medicare patients, it will be treated like any other procedure.