U Arizona spends tens of thousands on transgender surgery lawsuit

A professor is suing the University of Arizona after the school refused to cover his gender transition surgery.

The University of Arizona has spent over $50,000 on the lawsuit.

The University of Arizona has spent over $50,000 on a lawsuit filed by a professor who sued the school for not providing insurance coverage for transgender surgeries. 

UA professor Russell B. Toomey filed the lawsuit in January against the university for failure to cover a hysterectomy, part of a female-to-male gender transition program, according to KVOA-TV

Lawyers for Toomey say in the lawsuit that gender dysphoria can require “medical steps to affirm one’s gender identity and transition from living as one gender to another.” The amount spent by UA on the lawsuit, $52,386.10, according to KVOA-TV, is more than the cost of the procedure. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average cost of a hysterectomy in 2009  is a little under $39,000.

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Molly Brizgys, an attorney for Arizona’s ACLU chapter and a representative of Toomey, told KVOA-TV that most states offer this kind of coverage, calling Arizona an “outlier.”

“We wish that the state of Arizona would put its resources toward providing the medically necessary care for transgender employees,” Brizgys said, “rather than defending this discriminatory and unconstitutional exclusion.”

The lawsuit contends UA’s current insurance plan discriminates against Toomey because the plan specifically denies coverage for gender reassignment surgery. 

“The Plan categorically denies all coverage for ‘[g]ender reassignment surgery’ regardless of whether the surgery qualifies as medically necessary,” it states. “Transgender individuals enrolled in the Plan have no opportunity to demonstrate that their transition-related care is medically necessary or to appeal any adverse determination to an independent reviewer.” 

“We believe that since it is not a medical necessity, the University shouldn’t need to include [the procedure] in its plan,” University of Arizona College Republicans said in a statement to Campus Reform. “It is one’s choice to go through with that procedure. We do not see it as unconstitutional, but it’s definitely not constitutional to force the University to pay because of one’s choice to go through with an optional procedure.”

Twelve states, including Arizona, currently deny transition-related healthcare in their health benefits for state employees.

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“Defendants do not object to offering the insurance coverage requested by Plaintiff in the Complaint,” defense attorneys for the Arizona Board of Regents said in a court document obtained by KVOA-TV.

Officials for the school said they are restricted by the health options selected by the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA).

“Defendants have previously urged ADOA to remove the types of coverage exclusions requested by Plaintiff in the Complaint, but ADOA has not eliminated all exclusions,” university attorneys wrote.

UA did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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