State employees take NC to court over denied health treatments

North Carolina is back in the spotlight for a policy affecting the transgender community.

State employees filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming their health plan violates their constitutional rights.

The lawsuit argues the states health care plan violates federal law, because it doesn’t cover hormone treatments and surgeries like it did in 2017.

“This kind of treatment and discrimination is unlawful. The idea that because it only effects a certain number of people, that wouldn’t be a rationale for excluding that, that wouldn’t stand, it wouldn’t stand in court and it wouldn’t stand morally for the North Carolina state health plan,” said the lawyer leading the case, Taylor Brown from Lambda Legal.

A member of an advocacy group in Asheville explains how not having access to the treatments can be devastating to transgender people.

“Health care coverage for transgender people is necessary for us to live our lives and be seen as the people that we are,” said Campaign for Southern Equality Director of Policy and Program Allison Scott.

As a transgender woman, Scott said she knows how important these treatments are.

“Without these treatments, trans and non-binary people, we can’t live our lives, we can’t be seen for the people that we are and we can’t have the benefit of having treatments that are essential to our health and well-being,” said Scott.

The suit was filed by five current or former state employees.

In it, they cite a study done in 2016, that found the cost for these treatments costs somewhere between 0.011 percent to 0.027 percent of premium.

“It’s a miniscule savings for North Carolina, but a huge impact of transgender and non-binary people who are employed by the state of North Carolina.”

Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s office oversees the health plan.

News 13 spoke on the phone with the Buncombe County GOP Chair Jerry Green who said he supports the treasurer’s attempt to save money, but wants everyone involved to be treated fairly.