motion seeking to add another two additional plaintiffs to a federal class-action lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s blanket exclusion of health care coverage for transgender people by Medicaid and state employee health plans was filed September 23 by representatives of Lambda Legal.

If granted, Shauntae Anderson, who is a Medicaid participant, and Leanne James, a public employee and Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA) member would be added as additional plaintiffs to Fain v. Crouch.

“My life as a Black transgender woman has not been easy. I suffered years of agony and desperation without appropriate care and treatment for my gender dysphoria,” Anderson explained.

“Like other Medicaid participants, I rely on Medicaid for health care coverage and it has been heartbreaking to hear that just because I am transgender, I can’t access coverage for care that is medically necessary. It is not only inhumane but also unjust to be singled out this way.  

Said Leanne James: “It is deeply upsetting that I am deprived of coverage for critical and urgent health care simply because I am transgender. As a public employee and PEIA member, being denied coverage for medically necessary care that cisgender state employees have full access to is an insult to my dignity. The exclusion in the state employee health plans is a reminder to myself and other transgender state employees that we are being denied equal compensation for equal work.”

Filed last November in West Virginia’s Southern District, Fain v. Crouch is a class action lawsuit challenging blanket exclusions of coverage for gender-confirming care in West Virginia state health plans. The blanket exclusions of coverage for care are stated expressly in the health plans offered to Medicaid participants and state employees. West Virginia’s state health plans serve approximately 564,000 Medicaid participants and 15,000 state employees, some of whom are transgender. 

“The state of West Virginia continues to deny medically necessary gender-confirming health care to transgender West Virginians – via explicit and targeted exclusions,” said Avatara Smith Carrington, a staff attorney at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the case.

“West Virginia’s ban on gender-confirming care is unconstitutional and discriminatory; it causes physical, emotional, and financial distress; and it denies transgender West Virginians basic dignity, equality, and respect. Ms. Anderson and Ms. James are just two of many transgender people in West Virginia who are being denied basic health care just because of who they are.”

If approved, Anderson and James would join a list of other plaintiffs, including:

Christopher Fain, an adjunct professor at Mountwest Community and Technical College is a Medicaid participant. Fain requires chest reconstruction surgery, but is barred from receiving this care by the discriminatory exclusion in West Virginia’s Medicaid plan.

Zachary Martell is married to Brian McNemar, who works as an accountant at a state hospital. Both Zachary and Brian rely on the state employee health plan for coverage. Zachary is Brian’s dependent. Zachary has been denied coverage both for his prescriptions and office visits with his health care provider because the state employee health plans explicitly exclude “treatments associated with gender dysphoria.” As a result, Zachary and Brian pay out-of-pocket for Zachary’s care and, at times, have had to delay or forego care altogether.

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