Florida Strips Estimated 9,000 Transgender Medicaid Recipients of Life Saving Care

By Serena Sonoma  GLAAD.org | August 23, 2022

Last Sunday, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) ended its Medicaid coverage for life saving health care, affecting an estimated 9,000 of the state’s transgender Medicaid enrollees. 

The new rules, which were finalized last week, bars Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care.

“The Agency for Health Care Administration’s (ACHA) ruling has been denounced by a team of legal and medical experts from Yale Law School, and the University of Texas Southwestern,” said Tatiana Williams, Executive Director of Transinclusive Group, a south Florida-based organization that advocates to protect and defend equality for all transgender and LGBTQ people in the local area. 

The organization, which is also a grantee of Gilead’s COMPASS Initiative, has been facing what some have called a “slate of hate” against LGBTQ residents in Florida, head on. 

“Gender affirming care is safe and lifesaving for our trans youth, with 77% of LGBTQ and ally Florida voters polled strongly agreeing that ‘basic human rights for women and LGBTQ Floridians’ are being taken away by our elected officials,” she continued. 

Williams went on to say that ACHA must consider the peer-reviewed facts about healthcare for trans people rather than pressure from politicians looking to score points for the next election. 

“I ask that the 77% of LGBTQ and ally Florida voters who agree feel empowered to vote in our midterm elections on November 8th, to protect the rights of our trans community. 

We must remember that freedom is a right owed to everyone, and none of us can be truly free unless we are all free.” 

Earlier this year, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo made false statements in a memo that contradicts the guidance provided by every major medical association including the American Medical AssociationWorld Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), and the American Academy of Pediatrics

The memo advised healthcare workers against providing gender affirming treatment to transgender youth, as well as social transition, going as far as stating the state should mandate haircuts and clothing for children.

Ladapo has received backlash from Florida residents in the past who have called for his medical license to be revoked after allegations were made that he violated state medical laws by making false public statements about COVID-19, a complaint that was rejected by The Florida Department of Health.  

Florida joins at least 10 other states — including Arizona, Missouri and Texas — in banning residents from using Medicaid to pay for gender affirming treatment.

“As it has been with these attacks across the board, the cruelty is the point,” Nikole Parker, Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality, said in a statement. 

“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care. That care is now being shut off by a state agency that has been corrupted, weaponized, and stacked with extremists by a governor desperate to fuel his own political ambitions.”

Parker says that for many transgender residents, that will mean losing access to health care they have been relying upon for decades. 

“The transgender community, like all people, shouldn’t have necessary care stripped away by extremist politicians working overtime to stoke right-wing fervor. This cynical attack is dangerous and puts the health of thousands at risk.” 

Equality Florida has a form for transgender Floridians who will be impacted by the Medicaid ban on gender-affirming care who are willing to share their story with the public and their legal partners. 

According to studies, 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say debates in the states restricting rights of transgender people negatively impacted their mental health.

Anti-LGBTQ legal groups (classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center) also support these bills, often with identical language state to state. 

GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis also made a statement condemning the move, and saying that AHCA under the guidance of Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration has “made a mockery of the medical profession with its history of widely debunked and irresponsible actions, which harm everyone in the state.”

“This latest attack serves no purpose except to take lifesaving medical care away from transgender Floridians,” she continued. 

“Our leaders must listen to the medical experts and to the science, which have long established best standards of care to support transgender people and give them every chance to live and succeed as their authentic selves.

According to reports, a group of transgender-rights organizations are preparing to sue Florida to stop the Medicaid ban, including Lambda Legal, which has successfully won similar cases in Alaska and Virginia. 

2022 is already a record-setting year for state legislation targeting LGBTQ people, with more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills proposed. This follows 2021’s record of proposed bills targeting transgender Americans’ access to education, athletics, healthcare, and bathrooms.