Medicare ban on sex reassignment surgery lifted

photo In this May 29, 2014, photo, Denee Mallon, center, joins a candlelight vigil organized by Albuquerque Pride in Albuquerque, N.M. A U.S. Department of Health and Services review board ruled Friday, May 30, in favor of Mallon, a 74-year-old Army veteran, whose request to have Medicare pay for her genital reconstruction was denied two years ago.

SAN FRANCISCO - Medicare can no longer automatically deny coverage requests for sex reassignment surgeries, a federal board ruled Friday in a groundbreaking decision that recognizes the procedures are medically necessary for people who don't identify with their biological sex.

Ruling in favor of a 74-year-old transgender Army veteran whose request to have Medicare pay for her genital reconstruction was denied two years ago, the agency's Departmental Appeals Board said there was no justification for a three-decade-old HHS rule excluding such surgeries from procedures covered by the national health program for the elderly and disabled.

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