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Lambda Legal and Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger PLLC filed a federal lawsuit challenging Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois’s (“BCBSIL”) administration of a blanket exclusion of gender-affirming care in an employer-provided health insurance plan provided by Catholic Health Initiatives Franciscan.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma on behalf of a 15-year-old transgender boy, “C.P.,” and his parents, and argues the exclusion is in direct violation of the nondiscrimination provisions under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

BCBSIL is a “covered health entity” under the ACA, which means BCBSIL cannot, and it has represented that it does not, discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age and disability.  The ACA’s Section 1557, which BCBSIL agrees it must abide by, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity, such as in the provision of transition-related care. As such, BCBSIL cannot administer the discriminatory terms of the health plan provided by Pattie Pritchard’s employer—St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton, Washington, which is part of the Catholic Health Initiatives Franciscan Health System, now known as CommonSpirit Health.

C.P. is a dependent on his mother’s employer-provided health insurance plan and began receiving medically necessary gender-affirming care three years ago. Recently, however, C.P. and his family were informed that some of his care would not be covered because of an exclusion of any care “for or leading to gender reassignment surgery”, including the same care and medical interventions that other cisgender patients receive without question or problem. C.P.’s family has had to pay out-of-pocket for his care, causing unnecessary financial stress.