Florida sets July meeting on banning gender-affirming treatments under Medicaid

Proposed rule would affect children, adolescents

FILE - Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, front left, gestures as speaks to supporters and members of the media before a bill signing by Gov. Ron DeSantis, front right, Nov. 18, 2021, in Brandon, Fla. Florida health officials have asked the state medical board to draft new policies that would likely restrict gender dysphoria treatments for transgender youth. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File) (Chris O'Meara, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s health care agency will hold one public hearing on a proposed rule that would stop Medicaid payments to gender-affirming treatments for children and adolescents.

The meeting is set for July 8 from 3-5 p.m. at the Florida Dept. of Transportation building in Tallahassee.

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The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration is proposing blocking Medicaid payments to treatments such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery.

The agency points to studies showing the risks of these treatments outweigh the benefits and called the evidence in support of these treatments “weak.”

The proposed rule stems from a bulletin making similar recommendations that came from the Florida Dept. of Health in April and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.

Last year, the American Medical Association urged U.S. governors to block any legislation banning treatment, saying it needs to be up to physicians, and that stopping treatment could lead to mental health issues.

The American Association of Pediatrics said it supports gender-affirming care for adolescents, with a balance of care between family, physical and mental health professionals.

The Endocrine Society recommends puberty blockers not be used until after children begin the first physical changes of puberty. They also believe sex hormone treatments should not begin prior to age 16 without compelling reasons determined by an “expert multidisciplinary team.”

Sexual reassignment surgery is not recommended before 18 years of age.

Current Florida Department of Health guidelines recommend against performing gender-affirming treatments on children or teens below the age of 18.

The Endocrine Society, one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to hormone research and conditions, opposed the Florida Dept. of Health’s original bulletin in April against gender-affirming care.

“The Florida Department of Health’s policy reflects widespread misinformation about gender-affirming care,” the group said. “Gender-affirming care benefits the health and psychological functioning of transgender and gender-diverse youth. When an individual’s gender identity is not respected and the individual cannot access medical care, it can result in higher psychological problem scores and can raise the person’s risk of committing suicide or other acts of self-harm.”

In response, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo wrote members of the Board of Medicine earlier this month, warning about the potential negative repercussions of treatments.

“While some professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society, recommend these treatments for ‘gender affirming’ care, the scientific evidence supporting these complex medical interventions is extraordinarily weak,” he wrote. “For instance, the overview conducted by Dr. Brignardello-Peterson and Dr. Wiercioch states that ‘there is great uncertainty about the effects of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries in young people with gender dysphoria.’”

About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.