One of the plaintiffs is had tried to obtain “puberty blockers” for their 7-year-old son.
A recently filed federal lawsuit alleges that Florida’s efforts to exclude so-called “gender-affirming health care” for transgender people from its state Medicaid program is illegal, discriminatory, and an otherwise “dangerous governmental action.”
“This rule affects the most vulnerable members of our community, particularly poor trans people that otherwise would not be covered by insurance,” said 28-year-old August Dekker, one of the four listed plaintiffs. “Because of this rule, I don’t feel valued as a transgender person and feel that my health and wellbeing is not a concern for my own government.”
National Public Radio reports that the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday on behalf of four Florida Medicaid recipients, all of whom are either transgender or the parents of transgender children.
Carl Charles, senior attorney for LGBTQ advocacy organization Lambda Legal, told N.P.R. that Florida’s recently-imposed measures overtly discriminate against transgender the Sunshine State’s transgender residents.
“This exclusion is discriminatory, plain and simple,” Charles said. “Transgender Medicaid beneficiaries deserve health care coverage free from discrimination, just like any other Medicaid beneficiary in Florida.”
One of the lawsuit’s four plaintiffs, adds N.P.R., is a 20-year-old transgender man named Brit Rothstein.
Before Florida began restricting Medicaid recipients from gender-affirming care, Rothstein had been pre-authorized for breast surgery scheduled at the end of 2022.
However, Rothstein was informed one day after his approval that Medicaid would no longer be able to fund the procedure.
Another plaintiff, identified by N.P.R. as Jade Ladue, said she and her husband had been seeking medical coverage for their son, who had “come out” as transgender at the age of seven.
The boy’s doctor recommended “puberty blockers,” a controversial treatment that delay the effects of puberty.
The costs of the blockers would have been covered by Medicaid, if not for Florida’s recent exclusions.
In the future, the lawsuit states, the boy may need monthly injections that could cost the family more than $1,000 out-of-pocket.
“For our family, it would be super stressful,” Ladue said. “Potentially, if it’s something we couldn’t afford, we’d have to look to possibly moving out of state.”
However, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration officials have defended the exclusions, saying that the state can only fund treatments that are safe, effective, and necessary.
“Under our rules, only treatments that are found to be safe, effective, and that meet medical necessity criteria may be covered,” agency spokesperson Brock Juarez said in a statement. “That is precisely what the agency has done here.”