The short answer? Maybe.
Dive into the longer but far more satisfying answer below…
While some company and local government health plans cover care for transgender policy-holders, the Federal government does not and specifically excludes transition-related care from coverage.
Transition-related care may include hormone replacement therapy, mental health services, and sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). The costs of this care can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars, putting it beyond the reach of many who need it.
But some recent and almost unnoticeable steps by federal agencies could mean transgender care coverage federal employees and many others.
Many people believe the inner workings of the government are needlessly complex or hopelessly laborious. And in many cases they are.
So follow me into the workings of the government so I can show you.
On Dec. 2 the departmental appeals board at the Health and Human Services Department decided that the “National Coverage Determination” (basically what is covered under Medicare and Medicaid and other programs) excluding sexual reassignment surgery specifically from Medicare coverage needed to be revisited.
The coverage decision has been in place since May 6, 1981 and the original determination stated:
“Transsexual surgery for sex reassignment of transsexuals is controversial. Because of the lack of well controlled, long term studies of the safety and effectiveness of the surgical procedures and attendant therapies for transsexualism, the treatment is considered experimental;. Moreover there is a high rate of serious complications for these surgical procedures. For these reasons, transsexual surgery is not covered.”
The complaint that sparked this action noted that the language was terribly out of date and had no real bearing on modern day medicine. It seems HHS is inclined to agree.
But what does this have to do with Federal employees? In addition to administering Medicare, HHS is also responsible for enforcement of section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which covers “any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving Federal financial assistance, including credits, subsidies, or contracts of insurance, or under any program or activity that is administered by an Executive Agency or any entity established under this title [of the ACA].”
If you read that and thought the scope of the inquiry was extensive you are right. It covers a wide range of programs, including at least Medicare, Medicaid and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.
On an HHS Q and A on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act – which prohibits discrimination on the bases of “race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities” the agency answered a list of self-imposed questions, including:
“Does this mean that transition related surgery is required to be covered by health insurers?”
The answer was a simple “no.”
But the Q and A has since vanished from the site. (Update: I want to make clear the Q and A I link to is a web archive version.)
At the same time the agency issued a request for information on the same section (1557) seeking “information on a variety of issues to better understand individuals’ experiences with discrimination in health programs or activities and covered entities’ experiences in complying with Federal civil rights laws.”
The agency specifically requested examples of covered discrimination on the basis of sex, ‘including discrimination on the basis of gender identity, sex stereotyping, or pregnancy.”
While the rulemaking is far from complete these are signs the administration is open to changing how it treats its transgender employees.
This could be a huge step in getting transgender care covered under the health plans available to millions of people across the country.
I have reached out to the Office of Personnel Management and to HHS for comment. I will update if I hear anything.
NASA is looking for cutting-edge technology that can revolutionize aerospace technology, according to a Nov. 15 press release.
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program (NIAC) offers as much as $100,000 to help study potentially groundbreaking technology that is at least 10 years from being operational, according to the agency.
NASA is accepting short proposals until Dec. 18. The agency will pick from among the applicants to write longer proposals due March 2014.
“Our NIAC program provides an on ramp for early stage technology concepts to take seed and potentially create revolutionary new capabilities for space exploration that might one day change how we live and work as we explore the cosmos,” said NASA’s associate administrator for space technology Michael Gazarik.
Past NIAC proposals have included ideas such as using electromagnets to protect spacecraft from radiation and a solid-state air purifier, according to NASA.
Agencies began implementing their shutdown plans today and many federal employees have been told they will not report to work until Congress passes a continuing resolution or appropriations bill.
For those of you who are still working, how does it impact what you do? Your work?
For those of you who were sent home, what does this mean for you?
Feel free to comment on the blog post or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It looks like Donald Trump is interested in expanding is collection of used federal buildings.
Having recently completed a deal with the General Services Administration for the Old Post Office building in Washington, Trump told the Washington Post that he would be interested in buying the current FBI headquarters as well.
GSA has been looking for a new location for the agency, which has outgrown its dated 1970s headquarter in Washington. GSA has requested proposals from developers on how it could trade the old headquarters for a new one in the area.
So far prime targets are an old FBI warehouse in Springfield, VA as well as undeveloped land in Prince George’s County.
The Postal Service’s Inspector General’s office is launching a review of conference spending at the agency.
The office said that conferences can be an effective method of communication or they can be abused. Agencies have made great strides to reduce those costs by promoting teleconferencing and reducing the number of meetings, the office said in an Aug. 21 announcement.
“We are conducting research to determine if the Postal Service properly accounted for and evaluated Postal Service initiatives to reduce meeting and conference costs,” the announcement said.
The inspector general’s office is also asking attendees at recent Postal Service conferences and events to report if they thought costs could have been reduced and if the amenities provided were appropriate.
Scrutiny of conference spending has increased since an April 2012 inspector general report that detailed a 2010 General Services Administration conference that cost $823,000 and forced out the agency’s top leaders. The Veterans Affairs Department and the IRS have also come under fire for excessive conference spending.
Travel spending at federal agencies have been cut drastically in the last year or two. OMB asked agencies to cut travel spending and in some cases agencies cut them by up to 30 percent.
How have all of you been affected by these drastic cuts in travel spending?
Feel free to comment below or to email me at email@example.com.
A senior officer at McAfee, Inc., will be the newest deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, according to an Aug. 19 blog post by secretary Janet Napolitano
Phillis Schneck, the vice president for the global public sector at McAfee, Inc., has also held positions at IBM, NASA, the University of Maryland, CygnaCom solutions, and other companies.
Phyllis has been a close partner in our cybersecurity mission for many years. She served for eight years as chairman of the FBI’s InfraGard National Board of Directors and founding president of InfraGard Atlanta, growing the InfraGard program to over 30,000 members nationwide in the past decade, and fostering a relationship between InfraGard and DHS. Equally impressive, Phyllis holds three patents in high-performance and adaptive information security, and has six research publications in the areas of information security, real-time systems, telecom and software engineering.
During my tenure as Secretary, we have strengthened partnerships with the private sector to secure cyber networks and protect physical assets while developing a world-class cybersecurity workforce. In fact, the position of Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity was created in 2011 to act as the Department’s chief cybersecurity policy official, in recognition of the growing importance of cybersecurity to DHS’ mission of strengthening the security and resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure. I am confident that Phyllis will continue these efforts, and build upon the foundations laid by her predecessors, to create a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment and promote cybersecurity knowledge and innovation.
I happened to be at the 35th annual sandcastle competition at Rehoboth Beach, Del., and saw that at least one sand sculptor had turned to current affairs for inspiration. I am sure you all can figure it out.
The General Services Administration is hoping to trade its Metro West building in Baltimore for construction or renovation services on its other facilities, according to an agency announcement Wednesday.
The agency plans to issue a request for information for developers in the area Aug. 8 and interested parties will have 45 days to respond.
The 1.1 million-square-foot building will become vacant in 2014. The facility has a parking garage and sits on nearly 11 acres of land, according to the agency.
“Now that the Metro West facility will soon no longer serve the government’s needs, GSA is seeking ideas from the development community on a potential exchange of the building,” said GSA Regional Administrator Sara Manzano-Diaz.
She said the responses they receive from the business community will help the agency determine the best use of the property and save money on maintenance and repair costs while providing funds for needed projects elsewhere.
This isn’t the first time GSA decided to explore the possibility of exchanging one property for another or for services.
On Dec. 3, 2012 GSA issued a request for information to exchange the 2.4 million-square-foot J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in downtown Washington for a new headquarters nearby.
A 2005 law authorizes GSA to enter into special financing deals to exchange, trade, lease or otherwise negotiate for new construction or renovation projects.
Legislation that would enhance agency cybersecurity efforts and boost research into protecting critical systems from cyber attack passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Tuesday.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2013 would task the National Institutes of Standards and Technology with developing a set of voluntary standards and guidelines to reduce cyber attacks on critical infrastructure.
The legislation would also direct the Office of Science and Technology at the White House with developing a cybersecurity research plan that would include guidelines on how to test and build new software and how to improve consumer education on cybersecurity.
Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., committee chairman, said the legislation was a bipartisan effort that should be passed by the Senate.
“Now that the Commerce Committee has passed its bill, we’ve got to build on today’s momentum and get it to the floor,” Rockefeller said in a news release.