Kate Holt, a Springfield woman, filed a complaint last week charging that the state’s capitol is violating state law by denying insurance coverage for physician-directed care for employees who are transgender. The charge recounts how Ms. Holt was denied coverage for medication prescribed by her physician - medication covered for other employees who are not transgender - after she was employed by the City of Springfield beginning in February 2020. The denial is a clear violation of Illinois’ Human Rights Act, according to the charge.
“My prescriptions were excluded from insurance,” said Holt in announcing the charge. “They were excluded not because they were exotic or unreasonably expensive. My medications are common and covered for other medical conditions. I had already taken them under a physician’s care for more than two years without any problem. And the medications are covered for transgender people by other insurance plans, including our statewide Medicaid system.”
“But these safe, widely available medications were denied to me under the City of Springfield’s plan because of who I am,” Holt added.
At the time of her employment with the City in February 2020, Holt sought coverage for medication prescribed by her physician for treatment of her medical condition – gender dysphoria. Within a few weeks, Holt was disappointed to learn that the City’s Plan (administered by Trustmark Health Benefits) specifically denied coverage for “sex transformation and hormones related to such treatment.” Such an exclusion is aimed solely at people like her who are transgender and in need of treatment for gender dysphoria.
Over the course of several months, she repeatedly contacted City employees responsible for management of the insurance plan, learning each time that her request for coverage had been denied. In June of 2020, Holt was told that the Joint Labor Management Health Care Committee had denied her request for coverage of hormone treatment, and that no change would be made.
She also was told that there is no way to appeal this decision. The charge notes that the employee is being treated differently than other employees solely because she is transgender, a clear violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
“The Capitol City needs to respect and follow the law of Illinois,” said Josh Blecher-Cohen, a legal fellow with the ACLU of Illinois. “Our client repeatedly raised this issue with those responsible for managing the employee insurance plan at the City of Springfield. She was repeatedly rebuffed.
“The City responded with callous indifference and has taken no action – they need to do so.”