In a significant ruling, a federal judge has struck down the Florida regulations supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis that aimed to restrict Medicaid coverage for transgender treatments.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle determined that the ban on Medicaid payments was in violation of federal Medicaid laws and the Affordable Care Act.
Hinkle emphasized the authenticity of gender identity, stating unequivocally that “gender identity is real. Those whose gender identity does not match their natal sex often suffer gender dysphoria,” and that the ban on Medicaid coverage for hormone therapy or “puberty blockers” constituted a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.
“The widely accepted standard of care calls for evaluation and treatment by a multidisciplinary team. Proper treatment begins with mental-health therapy and is followed in appropriate cases by GnRH agonists and cross-sex hormones,” Hinkle wrote. “Florida has adopted a rule and statute that prohibits Medicaid payment for these treatments even when medically appropriate.”
The judge also criticized the state for deliberately implementing payment restrictions for treatments “for political reasons” and further asserted that “pushing individuals away from their transgender identity is not a legitimate state interest.”
While the lawsuit involved two adults and two minors, advocacy groups argue that the outcome could have implications for thousands of individuals, as the ruling applies to the Medicaid program of the state, which has a value of $38 billion, and affects the approximately 9,000 individuals who are transgender and enrolled in the program.
Despite the availability of gender-affirming treatments in the United States for over a decade, Florida is among a group of more than a dozen states that have recently implemented restrictions primarily targeting minors.
In May, that made it difficult — even impossible — for many transgender adults to get gender-affirming treatment.