Friday, December 8, 2023

Protesters are pushing Dane County to drop the SSM Health subsidiary as the county’s healthcare provider

Members of the Trans Resistance Action Committee (TRAC) gathered Saturday at the state Capitol to urge Dane County to end its insurance contract with a subsidiary of SSM Health after they stopped providing gender-affirming surgeries over the summer.

Medica’s Dean Health Plan has insured 3,000 county employees over the past four years. While gender-affirming care is clearly stated in their contract with the county, SSM Health has stopped administering gender affirming surgeries at their Aesthetic Center in Middleton.

SSM Health is a Catholic, non-profit health system whose decision follows months of increased pressure from the Catholic Church to stop Catholic health care providers from administering gender-affirming care such as surgery, hormone therapy or puberty blockers.

In response to the SSM Health decision, TRAC, a newly formed grassroots community organization that advocates for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people’s rights in the Madison area, took steps to the Capitol on Saturday to call on the county to drop SSM Health as a provider. .

“Obviously (SSM’s decision) is seen as a blatant attack on the lives of not only trans workers in Dane County, but also the trans community as a whole. So, we’re here trying to raise awareness and encourage Dane County to end their contract,” said TRAC member Cae Dallman.

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Dallman also mentioned the county’s recent decision to declare Dane County an official transgender sanctuary, urging them to support this resolution with real action.

“We really want them to put their money where their mouth is on that and show us that (it’s) not just words on paper,” Dallman said.

Logan Bitz, another TRAC member, said the SSM decision reflects the larger issues facing the trans community everywhere.

“I think it’s really indicative of the times right now that are so hostile to trans people,” Bitz said. “And we know it’s only about trans people because the same procedures are still offered to cisgender people at the Aesthetic Center. You can get breast augmentation as a cis woman, you can get a vasectomy …just hypocrisy.”

Kim Sveum, a spokeswoman for SSM Health, told The Daily Cardinal in a statement that the health system “welcomes and respects all people who come to us for care, including our patients who is transgender,” although SSM didn’t say why they decided to stop offering it. gender-affirming operations.

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“We remain committed to honoring the diverse individual needs of each person we work with and serve – and have a more than 150-year history of providing high-quality, compassionate care to all,” said Sveum.

Dane County is looking for a variety of providers

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Despite SSM’s decision to stop providing gender-affirming surgeries, Dean Health spokesman Scott Culver said the health plan will continue to support LGBTQ+ employees.

“Dean’s Health Plan remains committed to supporting the health care needs of the communities we serve, including our LGBTQ+ members,” Culver told The Daily Cardinal.

Although the county’s contract with Dean Health includes other providers who continue to offer gender-affirming services, SSM’s termination of these procedures at the Aesthetic Center means that many patients will not have access to the health care they need until the county will find a new provider. , according to Bitz.

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the county received no advance notice of SSM’s decision.

“When we learned of their decision, we immediately contacted our insurer,” Parisi said. “DeanCare has informed us that gender affirming services will still be covered under our policies but that SSM will no longer provide the service itself.”

The county’s current contract expires next year, at which point the county will choose from several bids they are currently soliciting from new providers. Ensuring that providers offer gender-affirming care for county employees is a top priority, according to Parisi.

“As we did the last time we issued a request for bids, we need any policy to include gender-affirming operations and services,” he said. “Dane County has consistently supported our LGBTQ+ employees and their families.”

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