The Biden administration has announced the expansion of taxpayer-funded "gender-affirming" healthcare for transgender and "gender diverse" federal employees.
The updated healthcare package was rolled out in early October by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), an independent government agency that acts as the chief of human resources and personnel policy manager for the federal government. The OPM's "Federal Benefits Open Season" fact sheet for people covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program states that the agency is "pleased to deliver enhanced health benefit offerings" in the form of "gender affirming care and services."
Beginning in 2023, all FEHB providers will be required to have "adopted one or more recognized entities" in order to guide benefits coverage and medical policies pertaining to "gender affirming care and services," according to the fact sheet. Among the approved entities are the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care.
Just in recent months, WPATH has come under fire for removing minimum age recommendations for gender transitions to avoid legal ramifications for medical practitioners involved in the process of providing sex-change therapies and surgeries to minors.
In another controversial move, WPATH has also recently expanded the umbrella of gender-nonconforming identities to include eunuchs, who are males who are willfully castrated.
This new move to finance so-called "gender affirming care" can be traced back to President Joe Biden's June 2021 executive order: "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce." The order directs the OPM to "promote equitable healthcare coverage and services for enrolled LGBTQ+ employees," as well as eligible family members through the FEHB.
"OPM continues to focus on ways our Carriers can improve access to gender-affirming care for transgender and gender diverse individuals," the agency said in the fact sheet.
In a statement to Fox News, a White House official noted that gender-transition coverage for federal employees was available prior to Biden entering presidential office, and that the new requirements are not unlike other transgender healthcare plans made available by private sector employers.
OPM also told the outlet that the expansion of such coverage helps the government compete with the healthcare policies of the private sector.
"The federal government strives to be competitive as an employer, and we are committed to providing important, comprehensive healthcare benefits to all federal employees, including LGBTQ+ employees," a spokesperson wrote to Fox News.
About a quarter of Fortune 500 companies offer gender-transition-related care to employees, according to the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
Other categories of healthcare will also have benefits expanded in 2023, including maternal care, medical foods, anti-obesity medications, and assisted reproductive technology. OPM will also continue pandemic-related policies, such as expanded telehealth services and coverage of vaccines and tests, reported Washington Post.
The hefty benefits come soon after the national debt hit a record high of $31 trillion, and the fiscal year of 2022 closed off with an estimated budget deficit of $1.4 trillion.
OPM themselves acknowledged that the FEHB costs are contributing to the increased debt load – with premiums under the new program being expected to rise an average of 7.2 percent next year. According to their guidelines, the government is expected to see a cost increase of approximately that amount.
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