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A judge overturns a Florida Medicaid policy that excludes care that affirms one's gender

A judge overturns a Florida Medicaid policy that excludes care that affirms one's gender
Source: thehill.com

A Florida rule barring orientation confirming medical care from Medicaid inclusion is unlawful and illegal, a government judge ruled Wednesday, adding that the strategy, ordered last year under the organization of Conservative Gov., furthermore, official applicant Ron DeSantis, depends on governmental issues instead of medication.


In August, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), which oversees the majority of the state's Medicaid program, enacted a rule that prohibits transgender residents from utilizing Medicaid to pay for surgeries, hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers, or "any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics" when those procedures are used to treat gender dysphoria.


LGBTQ civil rights organizations and health care professionals immediately voiced their disapproval of the rule, calling it "medically and scientifically unsound" and "politically motivated." In September, two transgender adults and a minor filed a federal lawsuit against AHCA officials, claiming that the rule discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender status.


U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who earlier this month partially blocked the enforcement of another Florida law restricting access to gender-affirming health care, found that the AHCA rule and a separate statute prohibiting the use of state funds for "sex reassignment prescriptions or procedures" violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution in a 54-page decision on Wednesday.


Hinkle wrote on Wednesday, "Florida has adopted a rule and statute that prohibit Medicaid payment for these treatments even when medically appropriate." The Equal Protection Clause, the Affordable Care Act's prohibition against sex discrimination, and the federal Medicaid statute are all violated by the rule and the statute.


Hinkle added, "These plaintiffs are beneficiaries of Medicaid who are entitled to payment, as a matter of medical necessity, for cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers as appropriately determined by their multidisciplinary teams of providers."


Hinkle also said in the ruling on Wednesday that Florida's Medicaid law was made to achieve a political goal.


Gender dysphoria treatments that were deemed medically necessary were covered by Florida's Medicaid system for a number of years. Florida recently adopted a rule and then a statute that, for political reasons, prohibited payment for some treatments," Hinkle wrote on Wednesday.


A June AHCA report asserting that gender-affirming medical care does not meet the requirements for Medicaid because it is experimental is also described in Hinkle's ruling as "flawed" and "from the outset, a biased effort to justify a predetermined outcome, not a fair analysis of the evidence." Hinkle's ruling also describes the report as "flawed."


In a June email to Florida Medicaid chief medical officer Christopher Cogle, an employee of the AHCA suggested that state health officials did not follow standard procedures for developing generally accepted professional medical standards (GAPMS) when they produced the report.


Transgender youth and adults should receive gender-affirming health care because it is considered medically necessary and frequently saves lives by all major medical organizations. Additionally, the majority have vehemently opposed insurance exclusions for transition-related care.


August Dekker, a 29-year-old transgender man and one of the plaintiffs in the case challenging Florida's Medicaid exclusion, said in a statement on Wednesday that he is "extremely relieved and pleased" with Hinkle's decision.


Dekker stated, "Florida's policy effectively denied me the treatment my doctors recommended because I rely on Medicaid to afford my health care as a low-income Floridian with disabilities." Additionally, I am glad that other transgender Floridians who receive Medicaid coverage can continue to receive life-saving critical care.


The ruling on Wednesday marks the second consecutive legal victory for transgender rights in the South. The nation's first law prohibiting youth access to gender-affirming health care was overturned on Tuesday by a federal judge in Arkansas.


August Dekker, a 29-year-old transgender man and one of the plaintiffs in the case challenging Florida's Medicaid exclusion, said in a statement on Wednesday that he is "extremely relieved and pleased" with Hinkle's decision.


Dekker stated, "Florida's policy effectively denied me the treatment my doctors recommended because I rely on Medicaid to afford my health care as a low-income Floridian with disabilities." Additionally, I am glad that other transgender Floridians who receive Medicaid coverage can continue to receive life-saving critical care.


The ruling on Wednesday marks the second consecutive legal victory for transgender rights in the South. The nation's first law prohibiting youth access to gender-affirming health care was overturned on Tuesday by a federal judge in Arkansas.

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