In a groundbreaking move, Florida has taken a firm stance against the use of taxpayer funds to cover transgender treatments by fining five Medicaid healthcare insurers for violating the state’s rules. This marks the first time any state has acted to curb gender transition coverage using such measures.
The violation involves five Medicaid plans that disregarded Florida’s rule against funding transgender treatments. Among the treatments covered were procedures like a double mastectomy performed on a 16-year-old girl, as well as payments for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors. The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration levied fines against these providers after they persisted in offering coverage for these services despite the adoption of the rule.
Jason Weida, Secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration, expressed his concern over the harmful consequences of these treatments and the importance of safeguarding the innocence of Florida’s children. While a recent federal ruling temporarily blocked a Florida law prohibiting transgender surgeries and medications for minors, the Agency’s rule remained in place, mandating Medicaid plan providers to withhold coverage for such treatments.
Enjoyed speaking with @megbasham at the @MorningWire about the concrete measures Florida is taking to protect children from surgical mutilations. Sadly, the Biden admin and @HHSGov are pushing these surgeries on kids. Not in Florida. https://t.co/YzDIjZBTRl
— Jason Weida (@weida_jason) August 18, 2023
The Agency’s rule came into effect in August after an extensive review of medical literature on gender dysphoria treatments for children, which concluded that procedures like surgeries, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones are not medically necessary. Nevertheless, the five providers continued to cover these treatments in violation of the rule, a breach detected during a routine Medicaid system audit.
What’s striking about this case is that, unlike typical Medicaid violations that involve a denial of coverage for treatments that should be covered, the violation here involved covering procedures and medications explicitly banned by the state. This raises questions about the motivations behind the providers’ decisions to provide coverage for these treatments.
The penalties imposed vary, with Simply Healthcare, the provider that covered the double mastectomy, facing a $30,000 fine and sanctions. The other providers will incur smaller, unspecified fines, with the more serious penalty being the non-willful sanction that places a lasting blemish on a provider’s record. This can significantly hinder the provider’s ability to secure state contracts for a decade.
Agency for Healthcare Administration Secretary Weida stressed that the rule’s aim is to protect children and that the decision is rooted in ethics rather than politics. He expressed gratitude for Governor Ron DeSantis’s support in establishing the rule, emphasizing that child protection is a core governmental responsibility. The Secretary acknowledged that this is a critical issue and asserted that they will diligently work to prevent what they view as the harmful mutilation of children across the nation through such surgeries.
“We take this issue really seriously,” Weida said. “We think that the protection of children is one of the most core functions of government here in Florida, and we’re going to do everything we can to protect children from these surgeries, which are really mutilating children across the country.”