BOSTON — City worker health plans should cover gender reassignment surgery, two Boston city councilors proposed Monday.
The plan from City Councilors-at-Large Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley would guarantee transgender city employees access to the surgery as well as hormone therapy and mental health services. The measure was placed on the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting.
“The city of Boston and our city government should be doing everything we can to make sure we are doing that with the most inclusive policies,” Wu tells The Boston Globe. “It’s the best business decision, as well as the right thing to do.”
The ordinance is meant to affirm human rights for transgender people and also make city jobs attractive and welcoming to the widest range of talent.
The proposal would ban the city from contracting with any health insurer that denies benefits or “discriminates in the amount of premium, policy fees, or rates charged” on the basis of gender identity.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh supports the proposal, a spokeswoman said.
Walsh recently recommended a coverage mandate for transgender treatment to the city’s Public Employee Committee, which advises officials on health care and other human resources issues, according to his spokeswoman, Kate Norton.
“This is something that Mayor Walsh is wholeheartedly in support of,” Norton said.
Transgender city workers are guaranteed medical treatment by statutes in San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C.; and other U.S. cities, according to Andrew Cray, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress in Washington.
Ensuring that city workers have access to transgender health services appears to have little effect on the cost of insurance premiums. Figures provided in the draft ordinance show that Portland, Ore., experienced only a .08 percent increase in insurance costs after removing exclusions on care for gender-transition services.