Florida Bans Medicaid Coverage for Gender Affirming Treatments After DeSantis Suggested Suing Doctors Who Provide It

Toby Hazlewood

Florida tackling rather than being supportive over gender issues

It was reported on August 11 that Florida's Agency for Healthcare Administration is introducing new rules for the application of the state's $36.2 billion Medicaid budget. From August 21, Medicaid providers will no longer fund gender affirming care which includes treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies or surgical procedures as a treatment for gender dysphoria.

Suing the doctors who provide such care?

The news comes just days after Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis referred to the provision of gender affirming care by doctors in the state and expressed his concerns over the provision of irreversible medical treatments to kids at a young age. The governor's proposed remedy to the situation - that the doctors need to get sued for their part in providing such care.

Preventing Medicaid dollars from being spent on gender affirming care seems to be one more step towards making such care inaccessible within the Sunshine State.

Treating a condition that kids grow out of?

The remarks came during a press conference announcing a recent initiative to provide more support for fentanyl addicts and their families.

As he addressed the top of gender affirming care, the governor questioned the wisdom of conducting radical and irreversible surgeries upon kids at an age when they're not necessarily emotionally-equipped to make informed decisions.

He commented:

"We've stood up and said, both from the health and children wellbeing perspective, you know, you don't disfigure 10,12, 13 year old kids, based on gender dysphoria."

He then referred to a statistic often cited as a reason for discouraging gender-affirming care for kids:

"Eighty percent of it resolves, anyways, by the time they get older."

The figure suggests that 80% of kids who transition, ultimately change their minds. There have however been concerns expressed over how the data from these studies was captured and analyzed, raising questions over its validity.

Standards of care based on politics, not medicine?

The ban on Medicaid coverage for gender affirming care seems unsurprising given recent statements from Governor Ron DeSantis and also from the state's Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo.

In June of this year, Dr. Ladapo commented on the standards of care that exist around gender affirming treatments and suggested that in his view, they're based on politics rather than good medical advice:

“The current standards set by numerous professional organizations appear to follow a preferred political ideology instead of the highest level of generally accepted medical science. Florida must do more to protect children from politics-based medicine. Otherwise, children and adolescents in our state will continue to face a substantial risk of long-term harm.”
Dr Ladapo and Gov. DeSantisTwitter of FLSurgeonGen

As with other recent, controversial legal changes in Florida such as the implementation of the so-called "Don't say gay" bill it is expected that there could be legal challenge to the changes to Medicaid funding too. Time will tell!

What do you think about the proposed changes to Medicaid funding for gender affirming care? Do you think that it's a reasonable change or is it discriminatory in its nature? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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