Florida's Medicaid system is eliminating coverage of gender-affirming care for trans youth and adults.
The new regulations announced yesterday 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."
It comes after the Florida Medical Board voted to ban gender-affirming care last week.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the state's Medicaid system, said the new rules will go into effect on August 21, forcing patients to pay for these services out-of-pocket. The announcement was met with criticism from a broad spectrum of medical experts, LGBTQ+ groups, and trans people nationwide.
Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program issued a joint statement, calling the move "morally and legally wrong as well as medically and scientifically unsound," and promised to fight back.
"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 coalition 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 coalition promised to "fight this rule and defend the rights of transgender people in Florida in whatever forum necessary to protect their rights to access health care coverage that is readily available to other participants in Florida's Medicaid program. The lives, health, and wellbeing of transgender Floridians are at stake, and we stand ready to vindicate their rights."
"Access to healthcare is a right every human being deserves," Nikole Parker, director of transgender equality for Equality Florida, said 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."
In April, the state received guidance from Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo who declared people under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone treatment, should not undergo gender-affirming surgery, and should not transition socially.