In a massive blow to LGBTQ+ rights, Florida officially banned Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care for transgender recipients. 

On 10 August, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration added the new regulation to the state’s $36.2 billion medical program, which the Florida Medical Board voted on a week prior.

Under the new rule, Medicaid will no longer cover gender-affirming surgeries, puberty blockers, hormone therapy “or any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics” (per Politico). 

Since the news was announced, medical professionals and LGBTQ+ organisations have slammed the state for its harmful decision. 

In a joint statement, Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program condemned the medical organisation and Governor DeSantis for putting “transgender people in jeopardy.” 

“This rule represents a dangerous escalation in Governor DeSantis’s political zeal to persecute LGBTQ+ people in Florida, and particularly transgender youth. Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program denounce Florida’s cruel effort to strip transgender Floridians on Medicaid of the ability to access essential, medically necessary, and often lifesaving medical care,” they said. 

Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director, echoed similar sentiments in an additional statement. 

“This new rule is the latest example of the DeSantis Administration shamefully targeting transgender Floridians. The Governor’s administration thinks it knows better than the residents and medical providers of Florida,” she said.

“Rather than following the science, the data or the experts, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration instead chose to misinterpret studies, ignore evidence, and lend credence to prejudice – yet again putting the state between patients and doctors for no reason other than political grandstanding.”

The harmful policy change is a direct result of Florida’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sending a transphobic memo to the Florida Medical Board.

In the document, the conservative official urged the state’s medical board to consider banning gender-affirming care for trans youth and Medicaid recipients while also making widely debunked claims regarding the life-saving treatments, as reported by NBC News.

“I recommend against certain pharmaceutical, non-pharmaceutical and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria,” Ladapo wrote.

The horrific letter also cited the state’s Department of Health and their similar transphobic guidance report from April – which condemned the social and medical transition of trans youth. 

In a recent deep dive report from Vice, the news outlet found that all 12 citations listed in Ladapo’s memo unsurprisingly presented skewed research findings and information from anti-trans resources. 

The new life-threatening rule banning gender-affirming care is set to be implemented on 21 August.