A coalition of mental health providers who treat transgender people in Connecticut has complained for months that the state Department of Social Services (DSS) has imposed what they call unnecessary and overly restrictive requirements on patients seeking gender-affirming surgery. The changes affect low-income patients on the state’s Husky health insurance. Before covering genital surgery to treat gender dysphoria – the psychological distress that can result from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and their gender identity – DSS now requires proof that the person has lived for at least a year in the new gender and has come out to family and friends. DSS accepts a legal name change as proof. In March, DSS imposed a blanket denial of gender-affirming surgery for anyone under 18 and began requiring two letters from mental health professionals assessing transgender patients before some surgeries would be covered, Alexandra Solomon, a clinical social worker with a therapy practice in Glastonbury and one of the leaders of the coalition, said.
Iasiah Brown, 25, of New Haven, said he does not see a need for a primary care doctor for himself and his daughter, opting to visit clinics in the area instead of waiting up to two weeks for an appointment at a doctor’s office. Brown is among the 83 people who said they didn’t have a primary care doctor in response to a health-care usage survey by the Conn. Health I-Team and Southern Connecticut State University. The team surveyed 500 people and interviewed dozens statewide between January and March. About 83 percent of respondents said they had a primary care doctor, but the rate was lower for African American (78 percent) and Hispanic respondents (75 percent).
The number of low-income Connecticut children receiving dental sealants, a treatment to prevent tooth decay, has grown in recent years and the state’s participation rate outpaces the nation. In 2016, 44,497 (19.6 percent) of the 226,111 children ages 5 to 16 enrolled in the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership had sealants placed on molars, up 9 percent from 2011, according to the state Department of Social Services. Nationally, in the 2015 fiscal year, 14.9 percent of eligible children – 2.7 million out of more than 17 million – received sealants, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. State officials and dental providers make a concerted effort to educate families about the importance of sealants, said Donna Balaski, director of dental services at DSS. “Sealants are shown to be an effective treatment for preventing disease,” she said, and is part of a broader DSS strategy to teach families about overall dental health.