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LGBTQ and health groups have denounced a new rule by Florida health officials set to go into effect later this month to restrict Medicaid insurance coverage for gender dysphoria treatments for transgender people.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration filed the new rule this month, and it is expected to go into effect Aug. 21, according to online records.
The state agency previously released a report stating that puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgery have not been shown to be safe or effective in treating gender dysphoria. Tom Wallace, State Deputy Medicaid directorsigned the report in June.
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Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project and National Health Law Program released a statement Thursday saying the AHCA is ignoring thousands of public comments and expert testimony in finalizing a discriminatory and medically unsound rule.
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“The actions of the AHCA, at the behest of Governor (Ron) DeSantis and his political representatives, are morally and legally wrong, as well as medically and scientifically unfounded,” a joint statement from the groups said. “This rule represents a dangerous escalation in Governor DeSantis’ political zeal to persecute LGBTQ+ people in Florida, and especially transgender youth.”
Transgender medical treatment for children and adolescents is under increasing attack in many states where it has been labeled a form of child abuse and where Medicaid coverage is prohibited. Critics point to the irreversible nature of many elements of gender transition treatment.
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Many doctors and mental health specialists claim that medical treatment of transgender children is safe and beneficial and can improve their well-being, although rigorous long-term research on the benefits and risks is lacking. Federal guidelines state that gender-affirming care is essential to the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary children.
Last year, the American Medical Association issued a letter urging governors to block any legislation banning the treatment, calling such action “a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine”.