LGBTQ activists and their advocates rally to support transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, New York, October 24, 2018.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

LGBTQ activists and their advocates rally to support transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, New York, October 24, 2018.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A new federal lawsuit challenges Florida’s efforts to exclude gender-affirming health care for transgender people from the state’s Medicaid program, calling the rule illegal, discriminatory, and “dangerous government action.” ” said.

A coalition of legal groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday On behalf of four Florida Medicaid recipients who are transgender or parents of transgender youth in the Northern Florida District.

“This exclusion is plain and simple discrimination,” said Carl Charles, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights group that led the lawsuit and has complained of similar issues around the country. “Transgender Medicaid recipients have the same right to non-discriminatory health care as any other Medicaid recipient in Florida.”

According to the complaint, one of four plaintiffs, Britt Rothstein, a 20-year-old transgender man, was pre-approved by Florida’s Medicaid program on August 11 for chest surgery scheduled for December. approved.

The next day, Rothstein learned that Florida had decided to strip him of his Medicaid coverage because of the proceedings, according to the lawsuit.

Another plaintiff, Jade Ladue, said after coming out as transgender at age 7, she and her husband began seeking medical care for their son, who was identified as KF in the lawsuit.

KF doctors recommended puberty blockers, a popular treatment for transgender youth to help delay the effects of puberty, He then received via implant. Due to Ladue’s family’s limited income, the lawsuit says the costs were covered by his Medicaid.

In the future, KF could need injections that could cost more than $1,000 a month, the lawsuit says. “It will be very stressful for our family,” Ladue said. “If that’s something we can’t afford, we may have to consider moving out of state.”

Nearly a quarter of the state’s residents, about five million Florida residents, rely on Medicaid programs funded by state taxpayers. More than half of children in the state are covered by Medicaid, and most adult beneficiaries are low-income parents or people with disabilities.

For years, the program has covered the cost of gender-affirming health care for transgender people, including hormone prescriptions and surgery. estimated to be currently using Medicaid for treatment.

In June, the state’s Medicaid regulator, the Florida Department of Health Care, announced that health care for gender identity disorder (the medical term for anxiety caused by a mismatch between gender identity and the sex assigned at birth) is no longer available. The state report was criticized by medical experts, saying it was “experimental and exploratory” and that research showing mental health benefits was “of very poor quality and relies on unreliable methods”. It has been.

Then, last month, the agency implemented new rules barring health care providers from charging Medicaid programs for such treatment of transgender patients. These treatments still apply to patients who are not transgender, the lawsuit says. (For example, cisgender children may be prescribed hormone-blocking drugs for a condition called “precocious puberty,” in which the body begins puberty too early.)

Abrupt termination of Medicaid coverage “will have dire physical, emotional, and psychological consequences for transgender Medicaid recipients,” the complaint states. Challengers are seeking a permanent ban on this rule.

Several other states have similar exclusions. Lambda Legal has filed challenges in several states, including Alaska and West Virginia, and a federal judge ruled in August that state Medicaid agencies cannot exclude transgender healthcare from coverage.

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