HHS Proposes Rule to Force Insurers to Pay for Gender Transition Procedures

HHS Proposes Rule to Force Insurers to Pay for Gender Transition Procedures

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule Jan. 5 that would amend the 2010 Affordable Care Act to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes and would force insurers to cover the cost of gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies. 

According to HHS, these amendments will ensure that those who identify as LGBTQ receive “medically necessary” care.

But the Family Research Council (FRC) argues that such procedures are not only unnecessary, but they are in fact dangerous.

“Such procedures are not supported by evidence-based medicine, and if this rule were to go into effect, it would harm the very patients it purports to help,” Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Center for Family Studies at FRC, wrote in a formal comment regarding the proposed rule. 

“There is a lack of scientific evidence to support the claim that gender affirmation practices account for any sustained reduction in gender dysphoria,” she continued. “There is evidence that puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgical procedures can cause permanent physiological damage and cause psychological harm. 

“There is also a growing awareness of those who are unhappy with their gender affirmative care and have decided to de-transition. Further investigation is needed to understand this population’s experiences and those who did not fare well following these medically-based practices. Given the aforementioned reasons, at minimum, these practices should be put on hold until better evidence exists, but they should certainly not be encouraged through the current proposed rule.”

The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) also submitted a formal comment expressing concerns that the proposed rule doesn’t set any parameters for children. 

“The regulation appears to apply ‘gender identity’ anti-discrimination provisions across the board to the care of ‘transgender’ or ‘gender dysphoric’ minors as well as adults. This needs clarification,” EPPC urged. “Even gender clinicians who promote ‘gender affirming care’ agree that children and adolescents should not be treated as mini adults; they require standards and treatment protocols that take into account the different developmental needs of children and adolescents.”

EPPC also pointed out that for most proposed rules, a federal agency gives the public at least 60 days to submit comments. But not this time. HHS stipulated that all comments must be received by Jan. 27, giving only 22 days for public comments on the 145-page rule. 

“Twenty-two days is offensive,” said Roger Severino, senior fellow at EPPC and former director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights during the Trump administration. “All year [HHS has] been destroying the norm that allows the public to have their say. It creates a rush, which shows that they’re trying to jam things through. In the middle of a surge in the pandemic, they’re rushing to pay back their friends in the LGBT lobby.”

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