• Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Florida’s Medicaid agency targets medical treatment for transgender people

ByMadeleine J. Pierce

Jun 4, 2022

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration released a report on Thursday that could set the stage for the Medicaid program to deny coverage for treatments such as puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy for transgender people.

The report was the second time in less than two months that Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration has targeted such treatments: Florida’s Department of Health said in April that the treatments should not be used for transgender youth.

The Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the massive Medicaid program, said in a press release that it would begin a rule-making process regarding treatments for gender dysphoria, which the government federally defines as “clinically significant distress that a person may experience”. when the sex or gender assigned at birth does not correspond to their identity”.

The treatments targeted in the report also include sex reassignment surgery, with the agency saying they “do not meet generally accepted professional medical standards and are experimental and investigational”.

“Following a review of available literature, clinical guidelines, and coverage by other insurers and countries, Florida Medicaid has determined that the research supporting sex reassignment treatment is insufficient to demonstrate efficacy and safety” , said the report, which was signed by the director of Medicaid on Thursday. Tom Wallace.

But the positions of the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Health clash with national medical groups and the Biden administration.

For example, after the Department of Health issued its guidelines in April, American Psychological Association President Frank Worrell issued a statement that the position “is not based on science, but on articles of biased opinion and hand-picked conclusions to support a predetermined point of view and create a narrative that is not only scientifically inaccurate but also dangerous.

“This memo from the Florida Department of Health distorts the psychological science regarding the treatment of gender nonconforming children,” Worrell said. “Research on the treatment of gender non-conforming people has found that the denial of evidence-based treatments can be psychologically damaging, especially for children and young people struggling with their gender identity.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration report said Thursday that Florida’s Medicaid program has no “explicit policy” regarding coverage for puberty-blocking drugs, hormone therapy and sex-change surgery. sex to treat gender dysphoria. Other states have a mix of policies, with some prohibiting coverage and others allowing it.

By law, services provided under the Medicaid program must be considered “medically necessary.” A test of medical necessity is whether the services meet “generally accepted professional medical standards” and are not “experimental or experimental”.

The report’s conclusion that treatments for gender dysphoria fail this test opens the door to denial of coverage.

Transgender issues have become a political battleground in recent years in Florida and other states.

For example, DeSantis signed a controversial law in March that restricts teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools. Republican supporters dubbed the measure the “parental rights in education” bill, while critics called it a “don’t say gay” bill.

Additionally, in 2021, DeSantis signed a law that bars transgender women from competing on high school and college women’s sports teams.