Mayor Sam Adams will ask the City Council to increase health care benefits for transgendered employees, including sexual reassignment surgery, through one of the plans offered to Portland employees.

Adams plans to submit an ordinance expanding the benefits on June 8. It could be heard next week, at the earliest.

According to a statement from Adams' office, the American Medical Association has identified transgender health care as being medically necessary. In 2008, the AMA passed a resolution supporting public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder and opposing the 'exclusions of coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder when prescribed by a physician,' according to the statement.

'As mayor, it is important to me that we attract and retain the best and brightest employees to the city of Portland. Offering non-discriminatory health care benefits - as leading employers like Nike, Google, Microsoft and IBM do - is one way to accomplish that goal,' Adams said. 'Covering basic, medically necessary care is a matter of fairness, and it's the right thing to do.'

The city offers two health care plans to employees, a Kaiser plan and a self-insured plan. If approved by council, the self-insured CityCore plan, which covers 66 percent of employees, would cover sexual reassignment surgery. Hormone therapy and counseling are already covered by this plan.

According to the statement, the additional cost for adding coverage for sexual reassignment surgery is $32,302 of a $41.61 million CityCore cost projection for 2011-12, a .08 percent increase.

Adams says the city of San Francisco and San Francisco County have provided such care to their employees since 2001, and have found that actual costs were far lower than anticipated. Multnomah County also offers trans-inclusive health care benefits to employees.

The cities of Seattle and Berkeley are considering the same type of coverage for their employees.

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