LGBTQ and health groups denounce new rule by Florida health officials banning Medicaid from covering gender-affirming treatments

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Ron DeSantis (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Florida‘s Medicaid regulator has finalized new rules banning health care providers from covering gender-affirming medical care and treatments.

The new rules will block medical providers from seeking reimbursement from the state for “puberty blockers, hormones and hormone antagonists, sex reassignment surgeries, and any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.”

 

Florida’s Medicaid regulator has finalized draconian new rules which ban health care providers from billing the taxpayer-funded program for gender-affirming medical treatments, stripping thousands of vulnerable Floridians of essential health care.

More than 9,000 trans Floridians access gender-affirming care through Medicaid – the federal health programme for lower-income Americans – and will have that access shut off when the new rules come into effect later this month.

 

On Thursday (August 11), The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) added new language to the rules governing the state’s $36.2 billion Medicaid program, in the the latest strike coming from Gov. Ron DeSantis who seems clearly determined to restrict or abolish gender-affirming treatments all together.

 

As part of that restructure, the new rules state that the program does not cover services for treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies or surgical procedures as a treatment for gender dysphoria.

 

In June, the Republican Florida governor, a Trumpesque 2024 Presidential hopeful who has become increasing vocal in his objections to such treatments and to trans freedoms generally, asked the state medical board to effectively ban all transition-related healthcare for transgender young people.

At the time, many warned DeSantis would come for trans adults next, and here we are.

 

Florida’s measures against transgender people in the state are among an unprecedented wave of GOP policies and legislative attacks across the US, seeking to restrict transgender healthcare and ban transgender athletes from school sports, along with a raft of other homophobic/ transphobic bills targeting LGBTQ+ Americans.

 

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MEDICAID (Getty Images/ iStockphoto)

 

Equality Florida called the organization a “state agency that has been corrupted, weaponized, & stacked with extremists by a governor desperate to fuel his political ambitions”, referring to Florida’s openly transphobic Governor DeSantis – also the man wh0 signed the state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law.

 

The statement continued: “The DeSantis Admin has done nothing to identify the catastrophic harm this decision will do to those Floridians.”

“The trans community, like all people, shouldn’t have necessary, life-saving care stripped away by extremist politicians working to stoke right-wing fervor.”

 

Then adding, “This brazen, politically-motivated attack is cruel and puts the health of thousands at risk.”

 

 

Nikole Parker, director of transgender equality for Equality Florida, added in a statement: “Transgender individuals are humans just like everyone else. Just because our experience isn’t widely understood, does not mean we don’t deserve respect and access to life-saving healthcare.”

 

“The country’s major medical and mental health associations recognize the critical importance of gender-affirming care.  Health care should be driven by scientific consensus, not political pandering or an election cycle.”

 

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Wiktor Szymanowicz/Getty Images

 

As a response to the announcement, a coalition of LGBTQ+ and Health groups – including Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program – joined forces to denounce Florida’s anti-trans healthcare rule, issuing a joint statement which declares the move “morally and legally wrong as well as medically and scientifically unsound”


 

“Ignoring thousands of public comments and expert testimony, Florida’s AHCA has finalized a rule that will deny Medicaid coverage for all medically necessary gender-affirming care for both youth and adults,” the joint statement said.

“This discriminatory and medically unsound rule will take effect on August 21, 2022, putting transgender people in jeopardy of losing access to critical gender-affirming health care services.”

 

The news is a devastating blow for the trans community in the US and a stark reminder of the threats still posed to all LGBTQ+ American’s by far-right GOP politicians determined to erase us and our freedoms entirely.

 

The updated rule will take effect on Aug 21. Some Twitter reactions below are well worth a read: