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Cuomo announces ban on insurance coverage and treatment for 'conversion therapy' for minors. Term refers to treatment for sexual orientation and gender identity. Reactions attached.
Text of press releases.

For Immediate Release: 2/6/2016
State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor


Multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State

Governor Cuomo: “We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of comprehensive regulations to prevent the practice of so-called lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender “conversion therapy,” which has been deemed harmful to patients by a wide variety of leading medical and mental health professionals. Multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State, and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

The New York State Department of Financial Services is issuing regulations barring New York insurers from providing coverage for conversion therapy given to an individual under the age of 18. Additionally, the New York State Department of Health is prohibiting coverage of conversion therapy under New York’s Medicaid program and the New York State Office of Mental Health is issuing regulations prohibiting facilities under its jurisdiction from providing conversion therapy treatment to minors.

Conversion therapy – which refers to therapy intended to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity – has been repudiated by many medical and professional organizations, including: the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the American Psychiatric Association; the American Psychological Association; the American School Counselor Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Association of Social Workers.

Warren Seigel, MD, FAAP, Chair of the New York State Academy of Pediatrics, said: "Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as all major professional associations of health and mental health practitioners and child and adolescent development specialists in the United State have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years. We are very pleased by the actions announced today to help protect vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth from discredited, sham and dangerous interventions. We applaud Governor Cuomo for his bold leadership on this issue.”

Ronald Bunce, Executive Director, LMSW, said: “The National Association of Social Workers - New York State has long condemned the use of “conversion” and/or “reparative” therapies. People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assume that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men are often pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. NASW’s National Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues believes that such treatment potentially leads to severe emotional damage, is contrary to data and should be banned. “

Matthew A. Weissman, MD, MBA, FAAP Chief Medical Officer/VP of Medical Affairs, Community Healthcare Network, said: “As a practicing internist and pediatrician, I welcome the governor's initiative. All 90 health care providers at Community Healthcare Network, including 14 federally qualified health centers, aim to make all of our patients' sexual lives healthy and gratifying. All New Yorkers are entitled to a safe, welcoming atmosphere in which to receive their healthcare without any attempt to force change in their sexual identities. “

Peter Meacher MD, Chief Medical Officer, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Family Physician, said: “So called conversion therapy not only doesn't work but it is extremely dangerous for LGBT people, with adverse outcomes from extreme mental distress and depression up to and including suicide. I have seen these adverse outcomes firsthand. The Governor's ban of this practice is a tremendous step forward in working toward health equity and justice for LGBT people.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said: "So-called LGBT 'conversion therapy’ is extremely harmful to our kids, as virtually all major medical organization have determined, and stands out as one of the biggest consumer frauds in recent history. Being the prime sponsor of legislation to ban this practice and the only openly LGBT member of the State Senate, I am extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for using his executive authority to cut off state support and protect LGBT children from destructive and discredited sexual orientation change efforts."

Assembly Member Deborah Glick said: "I am grateful that Governor Cuomo continues to use his office to support the LGBT community. Today, Governor Cuomo will take steps to ban insurance coverage for the discredited and pernicious practice of so called conversion therapy directed at minors. Once again the Governor will take an action to protect LGBT New Yorkers and make New York a safer and more welcoming state for all of us. I am pleased to work with Governor Cuomo, who has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to making New York the Empire State. I hope other leaders across the nation will be inspired to follow Governor Cuomo's lead. "

Acting Superintendent of Financial Services Shirin Emami said: “We hope that this action sends a message that widely discredited, harmful, and discriminatory therapies such as this must not be accepted in New York. LGBT conversion therapy can have a long-lasting and deeply scarring effect on children, and should not be part of any legitimate course of medical treatment.”

Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said: “By adhering to the recommendations of major medical organizations and banning these discredited and devastating therapies, New York is safeguarding the health and well-being of our state's youngest and most vulnerable LGBT citizens. The children of New York deserve to be shielded from this detrimental treatment that is rooted in archaic beliefs."

Commissioner of Mental Health Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan said: “Homosexuality, bisexuality, or living as transgender, are not mental disorders and they should not be treated as such. With our actions here today, we aim to protect the inalienable right of self-determination for New York youth, reducing the trauma this so-called treatment can produce in the LGBT community, and helping to end the stigma that has been associated with being LGBT for far too long.”

As part of today’s initiative, DFS, DOH, and OMH will take the following actions:
· DFS Insurance Coverage Ban on Conversion Therapy for Minors. Under new regulations DFS will issue (available here), New York insurers will be barred from providing reimbursement for conversion therapy services provided to an insured under the age of 18 years. In addition, such insurers are advised to inform participating behavioral health providers that conversion therapy should not be provided to minors and that the insurers will not provide reimbursement for such services. Additionally, as part of the insurers’ provider credentialing or application and re-credentialing processes, insurers are advised to require behavioral health providers to certify that they will not provide conversion therapy to minors or seek reimbursement from the insurer for such services.
· OMH Regulations Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for Minors. Under new regulations OMH will issue (available here), it will be unlawful for any mental health facility licensed, funded or operated by the New York State Office of Mental Health to provide conversion therapy to minors. Failure to comply with these new regulations could result in the revocation of license and/or funding for any entity found to have engaged in these practices.
· DOH Medicaid Ban on Conversion Therapy Coverage. The New York State Department of Health prohibits (notice available here) Medicaid coverage for conversion therapy, as Medicaid only covers care, services, and supplies necessary to prevent, diagnose, correct, or cure recognized medical conditions. Since there is no medical necessity for conversion therapy and because it has been repudiated and discredited by virtually every relevant medical and professional organization, Medicaid cannot cover it.

Conversion therapy does not include counseling or therapy for an individual seeking to transition or transitioning from one gender to another gender, that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of an individual or the facilitation of an individual’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, provided that the counseling or therapy does not seek to change sexual orientation or gender identity.


Stephen Peters | | 202-423-2860

BREAKING: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Takes Historic Action Protecting LGBTQ Youth from Dangerous ‘Conversion Therapy’

Gov. Cuomo will make announcement at HRC's Greater New York Gala tonight

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the news that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will use the authority of his office to take historic action protecting LGBTQ youth in the Empire State from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” As the first Governor to use his executive authority to protect LGBTQ youth from the widely denounced practice, under his direction, three state agencies will take separate actions.

The news comes as HRC is set to honor Gov. Cuomo tonight at the 2016 HRC Greater New York Gala with the National Equality Award for his remarkable leadership in advancing LGBT equality in the Empire State.

“Governor Cuomo continues to cement his role as one of the LGBT community’s strongest allies by taking this enormous step to end a practice that is tantamount to child abuse,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy, which has been linked to youth substance abuse, depression, homelessness, and even suicide.”

“With leaders like Governor Cuomo, we’re on on our way to putting an end to this horrible practice.”

Under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership, the New York State Department of Financial Services will issue regulations prohibiting insurance providers from covering conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18. The New York State Office of Mental Health will prohibit mental health providers from using conversion therapy on youth under the age of 18, and violations of these important protections will result in revocation of licenses. The New York State Department of Health will also take separate action to declare the abusive practice is not covered by the New York State Medicaid plan since it is never medically necessary care.

Claims by practitioners of so-called conversion therapy -- that they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression -- have been soundly rejected by every major medical and mental health association, including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. Last April, the White House called for an end to the practice, and in May, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act – federal legislation that would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on any person in exchange for monetary compensation. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) also released a report definitively denouncing “conversion therapy” last October.

From fighting for marriage equality to combating HIV and AIDS, to removing obstacles and improving opportunities for transgender people, Governor Cuomo has made LGBT equality a core part of his agenda since the beginning of his tenure. Last fall, he used the authority of his office to take a historic step by extending crucial non-discrimination protections to transgender New Yorkers and visitors to the state in employment, housing, and public services and spaces. Building upon state and federal case law, Governor Cuomo’s administration issued regulations clarifying that gender identity is included in the definitions of sex and disability, which are protected under current state non-discrimination law. With today’s news, he continues his pro-equality legacy by standing with LGBTQ youth in New York.

Six other jurisdictions have taken action to end this dangerous practice on minors. Laws banning conversion therapy have been passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

HRC and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation protecting youth from conversion therapy. The organizations have also released first-of-its-kind sample legislation for state legislators and equality advocates that draws from best practices in the jurisdictions that have passed successful laws, the more than 20 states that have introduced similar bills, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, and the experience of legal experts working on this vitally important issue.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


hetrick martin institute is proud to support governor cuomo's brave announcement today

As an organization whose mission is dedicated to the safety, mental and emotional health of LGBTQ youth, Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is thrilled the Governor is again taking bold steps to protect and safeguard NY's youth. Methods for forcing youth to deny their authentic selves are not only unjust and unhealthy but dangerous to our society. We thank Governor Cuomo for taking these steps to end the harmful practices known as "conversion therapy" and thereby protecting our society's most vulnerable, young people.
- Thomas Krever, CEO, HMI

Ross Schwartz
Director of PR & Communications
Hetrick-Martin Institute
Tel: 212.674.2600 Ext. 278


NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes executive action to ban coverage of conversion therapy

By Seth Adam, GLAAD's Director of Communications |
February 6, 2016

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that he will take Executive action banning public and private health care insurers from covering the dangerous practice of so-called "conversion therapy" in New York state. New York will be the first state in the country to prohibit so-called "conversion therapy" through Executive action.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

"No young person should suffer at the hands of the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy," said GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis. "GLAAD applauds Governor Cuomo's courageous stand against bigotry and bias, continuing his legacy of advancing equality and acceptance for LGBT New Yorkers."

Four other states (California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon) and the District of Columbia have banned so-called "conversion therapy through the legislative process. Major medical authorities -- including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and others -- have voiced opposition to so-called "conversion therapy," deeming it both ineffective and harmful.


The Center Applauds Governor Cuomo's Ban on Coverage of Conversion Therapy


I'm pleased to share reactions from the leadership at The LGBT Community Center to Governor Cuomo's Executive Order to ban insurance coverage of conversion therapy.

"Conversion therapy is an abusive practice that leaves lasting, deep emotional and mental scars on LGBT community members, and in particular on our vulnerable young population," said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. "We stand behind Governor Cuomo's ban on insurance coverage of this abusive, so-called 'treatment'."

"Conversion therapy is not just an ineffective practice, but it has also proven to be dangerous and harmful, leading to low self-esteem, depression, self-destructive behaviors and significant trauma," said Shane S. Spicer, M.D., Medical Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. "At The Center, we frequently see survivors of conversion therapy who are seeking treatment for mental health support and substance use. The Governor's action is a strong step in the right direction to end this inhumane practice."

For further inquiries, please contact me at 917.881.2162.


Mary Steyer
Director of Communications
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 W 13th St
New York, NY 10011
646.358.1714 (direct)
212.924.2657 (fax)