NC sued over transgender surgery benefit; Treasurer Folwell responds

NC sued over transgender surgery benefit, Treasurer Folwell responds

WILMINGTON, NC (AP/WECT) - North Carolina’s State Treasurer is responding to a lawsuit filed over the state’s treatment of transgender people.

State employees argue in a lawsuit filed Monday that their health plan violated federal law and their constitutional rights by dropping coverage of medically necessary procedures that had been covered in 2017.

The lawsuit was brought by five current or former state employees, along with two of their dependents. The employees say the treatments prescribed by doctors to treat gender dysphoria are life-saving.

Folwell’s office oversees the health plan. Folwell said his predecessor put the benefit in place a few weeks before she left office, and had it set to expire exactly one year later.

“The state’s policy of not covering sex change operations, which is also referred to as gender dysphoria, is the same now as it’s been during the entire eight years of previous Treasurer Cowell’s administration,” Folwell said in a statement. “Until the court system, a legislative body or voters tell us that we have to, when to and how to spend taxpayers’ money on gender reassignment surgery, I will not make a decision that has the potential to discriminate against those who desire currently uncovered types of procedures. The State Treasurer, the Executive Administrator of the Plan and the Board of Trustees have the duty and responsibility to act as the fiduciary for the plan, and in that effort we strive to provide a comprehensive benefit program for its members while balancing the network’s access, healthcare offerings of the plan and also member cost.”

The new lawsuit comes amid unresolved litigation over North Carolina's so-called bathroom bill and the law that replaced it.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. WECT News contributed to this report.