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The University of Arkansas System has suspended gender transition health care coverage for employees that was slated to start this year under the Affordable Care Act.

To comply with rules added to the federal health care law last year, university officials decided to implement coverage for “gender dysphoria” beginning Jan. 1, 2017, according to an email sent to employees.

The term is used by national medical associations for people who experience distress about the sex they were assigned at birth but with which they no longer identify.

But in December, a Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction against the regulation that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in health care, saying it violates existing law.

Citing that decision, officials wrote in an email to staff that the university "will suspend gender dysphoria coverage pending the final legal outcome of the injunction or further clarification of the ACA coverage guidelines.”

The plan will cover services received on or before March 6 of this year, the email noted.

Uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act is “challenging for both health plans and for plan participants,” especially with issues such as gender-dysphoria that involve long-term treatment, the email stated.

UA spokesman Nate Hinkel said the university's human resources department manages the changes to the plans.

He said he did not have an exact estimate on the number of the employees who could be affected. The university system includes six universities, five two-year colleges and seven other affiliated institutions, according to its website.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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  • Packman
    January 27, 2017 at 4:14 p.m.

    Very good news. As a society, it makes no sense to encourage body mutilation born of mental dysfunction.

  • RBBrittain
    January 27, 2017 at 4:49 p.m.

    Packman, first of all gender dysphoria is NOT a mental illness per most legitimate mental health organizations. Second, the "treatment" preferred by the few who still think it is -- conversion therapy -- is now widely discredited and is illegal in some states. Third, surgery is NOT the only treatment option; treatment also routinely includes hormone replacement therapy AND psychological therapy (NOT for mental illness but rather to help us deal with boneheads like you). And finally, there's many other kinds of "body mutilation" out there (tattoos, piercing, etc.) that we tolerate because it's your OWN bodily decision; why not gender transition?
    This is a big deal in Arkansas' transgender community because the UA System started to implement this coverage, then rolled it back claiming it was because of the injunction. NOTHING in the injunction REQUIRED them to roll it back; it only blocks the provision that essentially would have required most employers TO cover it. UA *could* have kept the coverage in place for the short term, but chose not to.

  • FayFan
    January 27, 2017 at 5:06 p.m.

    Packman, how about tattoos? pierced body parts? ear spools? implants? nose jobs? female genital mutilation? Just curious where you draw the lines and how you define "mental dysfunction."

  • RaylanGivens
    January 27, 2017 at 5:19 p.m.

    This should be covered under insurance as much as plastic surgery. Everyone else needs to quit wasting time talking about tattoos and piercings unless they are being paid through insurance.

  • MS3264
    January 27, 2017 at 5:41 p.m.

    Elective plastic surgery is not covered by any group policy I've ever had. Wonder whether the UA brainiacs think breast implants should be provided for women who suffer distress for being less endowed than desired? What morons!!!

  • DeceivedCitizen
    February 3, 2017 at 10:05 a.m.

    Packman, RaylanGivens, & smmlv3 - What about circumcision? That's mutilation of the body. Why is it covered by insurance? It's not medically necessary.