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Hawaii bill bans discrimination against transgender patients

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Hawaii lawmakers in the House passed dozens of bills ahead of a major deadline on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at the State Capitol of Honolulu. They made decisions on a variety of issues ranging from smoking in cars to whether or not to ban ivory.

Insurance companies would not be allowed to discriminate against transgender patients under a bill passed by the Hawaii Legislature.

The bill passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives prohibits denying, canceling or limiting coverage based on a person’s gender identity.

“That’s something that’s really critical, especially now when you have states around the country moving the other direction, explicitly placing into law the ability to discriminate based on who people perceive themselves to be,” said Democratic Rep. Chris Lee, who introduced the bill. “Here in Hawaii where we treat everyone with respect and aloha. We think everyone is created equal and ought to be treated the same.”

The bill was already passed by the Senate, so it now goes to Gov. David Ige.

People in Hawaii have been denied coverage for essential medical checks like mammograms or screenings for prostate cancer because of the gender on their driver’s license, said Kaleo Ramos, a transgender teacher. Ramos hopes the bill will expand access to hormone treatments.

“We’re talking about people’s existence, their lives,” Ramos said. “This is necessary to their living, because we have so many trans deaths just because they cannot access hormones, or they can’t afford hormones.”

Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott, one of three representatives who opposed the bill, said he finds the social aspects troubling. McDermott said he is concerned that the bill would mandate insurance coverage of gender-reassignment surgeries, which he said would increase costs for everyone.

“This bill would be much more compassionate if we offered them free psychiatric care … instead of trying to address a psychological disorder with a physical solution,” McDermott said.

In response, Lee said the bill doesn’t mandate coverage of surgeries; it bans discrimination based on gender identity for services already offered by insurance plans. “A good portion of what he said was inaccurate, and more in line with what we’re hearing on the national level, targeting and perhaps even demonizing a group of citizens,” Lee said.

Mississippi recently passed a law allowing churches and some private businesses to refuse service to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Supporters said it’s about protecting religious freedom of those who, for example, don’t want to perform same-sex weddings.

The North Carolina law, which has drawn thousands to demonstrations for and against the law, prevents specific anti-discrimination rules for gay and transgender people using public restrooms. Religious leaders said the law protects women and children from men who use the law as a pretense to enter the wrong restroom.

Around the country, 10 jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C. have laws or policies banning discriminatory exclusions and denials of treatment based on gender identity, according to Equality Hawaii, a nonprofit organization.

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  • does this mean a transgender man, who identifies as a woman, can use public restrooms and showers for women? in Hawaii the answer, sadly, is probably yes.

  • Another poorly reported/written news article. I believe this refers to HB 2084 where discrimination by the insurance company is defined as:
    (4) Denying, canceling, or limiting coverage for services on the basis of actual gender identity or perceived gender identity including but not limited to the following:

    (A) Health care services related to gender transition; provided that there is coverage under the policy, contract, plan, or agreement for the services when the services are not related to gender transition; and

    (B) Health care services that are ordinarily or exclusively available to individuals of one sex.

    I don’t think it means that a man with a woman’s plumbing can get cervical screening nor can woman with a man’s plumbing get prostate screening/exam because in the very next section, medical necessity is required.
    (c) The medical necessity of any treatment shall be determined pursuant to the insurance policy, contract, plan, or agreement and shall be defined in a manner that is consistent with other covered services.

    If treatment must be medically necessary, how can Kaleo Ramos make the claim that this bill will provide coverage for things like mammograms or screenings for prostate cancer when they would not be medically necessary for persons who identify with the opposite sex?

  • So they have to give birth control pills to transgender people and conduct pelvic exams? No, they want sex change operations at no cost. Very expensive for the rest of us.

  • This is utterly insane – a law to prevent discriminate against feelings or perceptions. Why not include dreams? And let’s not stop with transgenders. If the same illogical logic is applied to other things like smoking, it seems to me it would be discrimination to deny people the right to purchase tobacco products and smoke if they feel or perceive they are 21 even though their driver licenses say they are less than 21. That makes as much sense as the transgender law.

    • Our society has reaped what it has sown. This is what happens when the distinction between right and wrong is blurred. In its fundamental sense, to discriminate is to exercise one’s discretion and to distinguish between right and wrong. So discrimination in and of itself is not inherently wrong. However, the label of discrimination now carries a negative connotation that for all practical purposes makes it acceptable to excuse any form of behavior whether it be wrong or deviant or defies all common sense.

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