Gov. Larry Hogan will allow forward a regulation banning Medicaid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gov. Larry Hogan will allow forward a regulation banning Medicaid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Photo by Kenneth K. Lam)

Gov. Larry Hogan will allow implementation of three health care regulations his administration had previously flagged for further review, including one that bans discrimination against Medicaid patients based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Hogan's withholding of the regulation, which also prevents discrimination based on religious affiliation, had riled advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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It and the two other regulations will now be resubmitted to appear in the next printing of the Maryland Register, a Hogan spokeswoman said. They were initially set to appear in the Register on Friday.

One of the other regulations would implement mid-year adjustments to HealthChoice, the state's mandatory managed care program, and add supplemental medical payments for Hepatitis C therapy services. The third would change eligibility periods and premium adjustment requirements under the Employed Individuals with Disabilities Program, managed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Hogan said last week he was withholding the three health regulations, along with two others pertaining to the environment, because he "didn't like the fact that [predecessor Gov. Martin O'Malley] was trying to push these things through at the last minute," and wanted his administration to have a chance to review them before implementation.

On Thursday, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said Hogan has since become comfortable with the regulations following "review and consultation" with new state health secretary Van T. Mitchell.

No final decisions have been made on the two withheld environmental regulations, Montgomery said. They would curb Eastern Shore farmers' use of poultry manure on their fields and clamp down on air pollution from coal-burning power plants.

The move follows the governor's reissuing an executive order to include gender identity in a list of protected classes, after initially leaving the language out and angering LGBT advocates. Montgomery said that change simply brought the language in line with the governor's original intent for the order.

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, the state's leading LGBT advocacy organization, said both steps by the new administration are a "good sign."

"We asked him to fix two things, and he did both," she said of Hogan. "You have to commend him for that. Regardless of the intention of the mistake, he fixed it."

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