January 30, 2015 at 11:54 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Hogan will allow Medicaid discrimination regulation to take effect

gender identity, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will allow a regulation banning anti-LGBT discrimination in the state’s Medicaid program to take effect. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has announced his administration will allow a regulation that will prohibit state Medicaid providers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to take effect.

Equality Maryland on Wednesday announced on its Facebook page that the organization “just talked to the governor’s office” and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van Mitchell “has recommended reissuing the Medicaid regulations prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people.” The group described the announcement as “good news.”

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene last November approved the change to the Code of Maryland Regulations. Both Equality Maryland and Free State Legal Project noted at the time the state’s transgender rights law that then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in May had taken effect.

Hogan on Jan. 21 announced he would postpone the final implementation of the regulation on the same day he took office. The Baltimore Sun reported the Medicaid provision is among the five the Republican governor pulled before they had been scheduled to appear in the Maryland Register two days later.

“As Gov. Hogan has repeatedly made clear, he decided to place a hold on a handful of regulations that the previous administration put through at the last minute,” Hogan spokesperson Hannah Marr told the Blade on Friday in a statement. “After review and consultation with Secretary Mitchell, the governor is comfortable with the health care-related regulations going forward, and will submit them to the Maryland Register.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, told the Blade the new regulations will appear in the Maryland Register on Feb. 6.

Gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) on Friday during a telephone interview with the Blade welcomed Hogan’s decision to allow the LGBT-inclusive regulation to take effect.

“I’m thrilled,” said Madaleno.

The controversy surrounding Hogan’s decision to delay implementation of the Medicaid regulation coincided with criticism from Equality Maryland and Free State Legal over the exclusion of gender identity and expression from his first executive order that outlines ethics standards for executive branch employees.

Hogan last Friday issued a revised mandate that included trans-specific language.

The Republican governor during his campaign against then-Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown said he did not support the state’s trans rights law that O’Malley signed. It nevertheless remains highly unlikely that Hogan will seek to repeal the statute, in part, because Democrats continue to control both houses of the Maryland General Assembly.

Dana Beyer, the executive director of Gender Rights Maryland who unsuccessfully ran against Madaleno last year, told the Blade her organization is “pleased and not surprised” that Hogan “has resubmitted for publication the regulations for Medicaid coverage of transgender Marylanders during his first week in office.”

“As advocates it behooves us to give our elected officials the benefit of the doubt and not condemn without good cause, simply because we have been mistreated in the past,” said Beyer. “Let’s build on our successes to make further progress for all LGBT Marylanders.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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