Kaiser Permanente Overturns Harmful Transgender Healthcare Access Policy; Showbox Update; Delridge Day; SPF 30!!

Kaiser Permanente Overturns Harmful Transgender Healthcare Access Policy

During the 2018 budget deliberations the Seattle LGBTQ Commission sent a letter to the City Council with requests that we support access to healthcare for transgender people including but not limited to:

  • Gender affirmation surgery and treatment
  •  Fertility and assisted reproduction needs
  •  Procedures that insurance may have previously designated as for a single gender, e.g. pap smears for trans men

In March of this year the LGBTQ Commission wrote to Mayor Durkan and the City Council with specific concerns about Kaiser Permanente, one of the healthcare providers for City of Seattle employees.  Their concerns included a policy of Kaiser’s to only cover breast augmentation when it was preceded by a mastectomy. The “Transgender Medical Coverage Rights” as outlined on the WA Office of the Insurance Commissioner states:

  • “Health insurers are required to cover procedures that are part of a gender transition process if they’re covered for other policyholders for different reasons. Examples include…Breast augmentation and reconstruction.”

In response to concerns from both the LGBTQ Commission and community advocates such as the Gender Justice League and Ingersoll Gender Center I had several combined meetings with these advocates and one with representatives from Kaiser. Due to the tireless efforts from these community advocates, last week Kaiser Permanente announced that they have reversed this inequitable practice.  In addition to changing this practice and under an agreement with the State, Kaiser will review all denials of these gender affirming surgeries since Jan. 2016.

I also want to acknowledge the work that CM Juarez has done on this issue and thank her for her advocacy on behalf of transgender communities in Seattle including her letter to Seattle area health care providers outlining the current protections for transgender people provided by the City of Seattle and the work of the State Insurance Commissioner to clarify the responsibilities of insurance carriers to serve ALL people in WA state.

All people should have access to affirming health care and coverage and I’m glad to see that Kaiser has taken this important step to help ensure that this is the case.

Showbox Update

Many of you may be following the efforts to preserve the Showbox.  On Monday the Council voted to introduce an ordinance relating to the Pike Place Market Historical District which would expand the boundaries for two years to allow for a study.  After two years, if the Council didn’t take action, the boundaries would revert.  Under that proposal the boundary expansion would include the Showbox and about a dozen other properties. Expanding the boundaries of the Pike Place Market Historical District is being considered because, in doing so, the Historic Commission would have the authority to review and approve the use of the structures within the District (not something the Landmarks Preservation Board can do). The Council voted Monday to refer this ordinance to the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday for continued discussion. You can watch the committee meeting here (start at 1:59:50).

At the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday six of the nine Councilmembers voted to pass an amended ordinance. The two changes made to the Sawant proposal were to limit the study area to just the Showbox and not other properties and to reduce the study period from two years to ten months.

With the ordinance passed out of committee, it will be headed back to Full Council on Monday. However, some new information from the Department of Construction and Inspection (DCI) may lead to the ordinance being held to a later date. DCI Director Torgelson joined the Council at the committee table on Wednesday and explained that, with the agreement of the developer, the department would delay conducting a pre-submittal conference with the developer until October 17.  This will delay the opportunity for the development to become vested. This agreement was made so that the Council would have more time to vote on the final bill, which the developer hopes to convince the Council not to pass.

I expect the Council on Monday to consider holding the legislation until sometime in September, this will allow for a public hearing as well as provide an opportunity for the developer to develop a plan that they hope will satisfy the Council’s concerns.  In the message from the developer’s legal counsel agreeing to delay vesting, the description of the effort was as follows:

“…we look forward to working with you on “win-win” solutions that could sustain the performance history (my emphasis added) of the Showbox into the future, while still also allowing the development of high-rise housing at this site.”

To learn more about the historical significance of the Showbox building, see the Landmarks Preservation application here.  The follow the preservation effort, led by Historic Seattle, see here.

Delridge Day

Delridge Day, which started in 2006, will be this Saturday between 11am and 3pm. The annual event hosts food venders, local musicians, games, and more. Additionally, the Southwest Police Precinct will be hosting a picnic at the same location.  Also, look for the City of Seattle table where there will be information about the North Delridge Action Plan.

SPF 30!!

Sub Pop is turning 30! Come out to Alki this Saturday where four stages will host live music from noon to 10pm. It’s all free, there’s no admission cost!

Sub Pop is also raising money to help support YouthCare. YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and empower them to achieve their goals.

Head to Sub Pop’s SPF 30 website here to check out the bands that are playing, the best transportation options, and more.

© 1995-2018 City of Seattle