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State agency bans select gender dysphoria treatments from Medicaid coverage

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Posted at 10:27 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 10:27:57-04

TAMPA, Fla — According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria refers to the psychological distress that some people experience when the gender they've been assigned at birth doesn't match the gender they identify with.

And according to the association, it's often something that people who are transgender or gender non-conforming have to grapple with.

Treatment options vary from social and legal affirmations like changing one's name and pronouns and dressing in a way that matches one's gender identity—to medical affirmations like puberty suppressants and hormone treatments, among other things.

But as of Sunday, Florida Medicaid will no longer cover that last group of treatments.

Brandon Wolf, the Press Secretary for Equality Florida, said it's a change that is prompting discussions about legal action within his organization and many others across the state.

"I know I can't imagine what that would feel like. My heart is breaking for folks," he said. "Fighting back is the only hope we have."

This all comes, after the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) voted to change its Medicaid rules to block coverage for "puberty blockers; hormones and hormone antagonists; sex reassignment surgeries; and any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics."

Ahca Gender Dysphoria Report by ABC Action News on Scribd

In June, the agency released a 46-page analysis of these treatments and claimed that they are "Not consistent with widely accepted professional medical standards and are experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long-term affects."

In July, during a meeting letting the public speak on the issue, groups supporting the rule change spoke out.

“This [treatment] does not need to be provided to children, period," said one woman.

“It should not be paid for by taxpayers' money. It is not an illness. It is not a disease," said a supporter.

In the meantime, Wolf told me groups are creating "mutual aid funds" to help people who just lost coverage of this care.

And he adds that he also wants to clear up any confusion about who has lost access to that coverage.

"If people are on a different health plan is they're accessing health care through a different means that care is still legal, it is still allowed to be performed here in the state of Florida. You can still access your doctor. And it's worth saying out loud that this rule does not cover mental health services," he said.

Ahca Medicaid Policy 2022 by ABC Action News on Scribd