“VA HAS BEEN AND WILL CONTINUE TO EXPLORE A REGULATORY CHANGE THAT WOULD ALLOW VA TO PERFORM GENDER ALTERATION SURGERY…”
The Department of Veterans Affairs claims the problem is that they do not know how to pay for the program. “VA has been and will continue to explore a regulatory change that would allow VA to perform gender alteration surgery and a change in the medical benefits package, when appropriated funding is available,” the department told Military.com in a statement. Therefore, this regulation will be withdrawn from the Fall 2016 Unified Agenda.”
The Unified Agenda is a bi-annual publication that proposes regulatory changes for the VA. It was due to be released on Monday. The new editions was to include the rule changes. Because the VA did not include a plan regarding how to pay for the program, the Office of Management and Budget kicked it back.
Back in 2011, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that requires agencies to consider costs when proposing rule changes. “The sex-change operation rule’s rejection by the OMB doesn’t mean they don’t support the change,” an official said. “Just that the office needs to see funding plans for it. VA officials notified members of Congress on Monday regarding their decision to exclude the rule change.
The department currently covers hormone therapy, mental health care, preoperative evaluations and long-term care after gender confirmation surgery, but they do not yet cover the surgery itself. The delay now puts the rule in jeopardy as the Trump administration will take over and it is not yet known whether they will support the rule.
“All of our nation’s veterans, regardless of their gender identity, deserve access to the medical care they earned serving our nation. This is a deeply disappointing setback in making sure an often medically necessary procedure is part of that care,” said president of the American Military Partners Association, Ashley Broadway, in a statement.