Lately there has been much discussion about what health insurance should cover and what it should not cover. Obamacare has added to that discussion by requiring that approved insurance policies cover pediatric dental care for single people or that single men have coverage for birth control. Yet many cancer patients and people with serious diseases have found that they are not fully covered. We have heard their stories.
I have previously posted stories about Robert, now Michelle, Kosilek (rightwinggranny.com and rightwinggranny.com), a convicted murderer currently serving prison time in Massachusetts. These stories have focused on Mr. Kosilek’s battle to force the Massachusetts taxpayers to pay for his sex-change operation so that he can spend his time in prison as Michelle Kosilek. The latest decision to come down from the Massachusetts court was that the taxpayers should also pay for Mr. Kosilek’s legal expenses in this case.
Now a taxpayer has gone to the courts claiming discrimination in this case. Today’s Boston Herald is reporting that Anita T. Phoenix, 59, a Cambridge transgender woman, has filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month claiming that Medicare and MassHealth discriminated against her because they would not pay for her transgender treatments.
The article reports:
“It will open the door not only to other law-abiding people to make that claim, but people who are incarcerated to seek other forms of surgery that they wouldn’t otherwise obtain,” said Tarr. “What we’re talking about here are extraordinary measures that most citizens can’t afford and wouldn’t undertake. If we set a precedent in allowing Kosilek to obtain this kind of surgery, what we’d essentially be doing is opening the door for all different types of surgeries that are extraordinary to become the subject of entitlement.”
In 2012, federal Judge Mark Wolf ruled the state must pay for Kosilek’s surgery. DOC is making preparations for the operation should a pending appeal fail.
It seems to me that Mr. Kosilek’s and Ms. Phoenix’s is, to some degree, elective surgery. Health insurance does not pay for face lifts or Lasik eye surgery because they are considered optional. When I had cataract surgery, the toric lens they implanted was not covered by my insurance–I had to pay for it–the insurance company would have paid for a lens that had no prescription, but that would have left me still paying for eyeglasses. Frankly, I am much more sympathetic to Ms. Phoenix’s cause than I am for Mr. Kosilek’s cause. It would be a travesty of justice if Mr. Kosilek, a convicted murderer, has access to free health care that Ms. Phoenix, an average taxpayer, is not able to access freely under her health insurance.