(The Daily Signal) –
Florida has become the first state to sanction Medicaid providers for covering the attempted gender transitions of minors.
The state is fining five Medicaid health care insurers for violating Florida’s new rule banning taxpayer funds from going to transgender treatments, such as performing a double mastectomy or administering puberty blockers, Jason Weida, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.
A year ago, in August 2022, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration had promulgated a rule that Florida Medicaid would not cover puberty blockers, hormones, sex-reassignment surgeries, or “any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.”
“Given the notice that they are on now, with the rule being passed last year, and now that we have this audit and the letters and this discipline, any type of violation going forward would be deemed an intentional violation and would be subject to very severe consequences,” Weida promised.
The Daily Wire’s news podcast, “Morning Wire,” first reported the news on Friday.
Weida emphasized to The Daily Signal that transgender surgeries are irreversible and “mutilate children at a very young age when they can’t consent to these types of procedures” with serious long-term consequences. He also praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is currently vying for the Republican presidential nomination, for taking “concrete steps” within Florida to protect “the innocence of our children.”
“A lot of people are talking about this on the news right now, about gender issues and other things,” Weida said. “But none of them have done as much as Gov. DeSantis and his team has done over the last year … He really believes in protecting the innocence of our children.”
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration initiated legal action against the five Medicaid health plans that included issuing cease and desist letters as well as liquidated damages for the transgender procedures that these plans had covered for providers.
Letters from Florida’s Medicaid Plan Management to Simply Healthcare Plans Inc.; Sunshine State Health Plan Inc.; Humana Medical Plan Inc.; Molina Healthcare of Florida Inc.; and Children’s Medical Services Health Plan warn these health care insurers that they inappropriately paid for treatments related to gender dysphoria and transgender treatments.
Following an agency audit that took place between December 2022 and February 2023, the agency discovered that the five health insurers (Simply, Sunshine, Children’s Medical Services, Molina, and Humana) had covered puberty blockers or hormones, as well as one instance where Simply covered a young girl’s double mastectomy, though she was a minor.
One of the letters, to Simply Healthcare Plans Inc., specifically names a Dr. Sara Danker and states that Simply Healthcare Plans Inc. paid for “services related to the treatment of gender dysphoria for a minor” that Danker performed.
Danker, who performs plastic surgery procedures in Miami, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Signal.
These letters remind the Medicaid health plans that “effective August 21, 2022, Florida Medicaid does not cover the following services for the treatment of gender dysphoria: puberty blockers, hormones and hormone antagonists, sex reassignment surgeries, and any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.”
DeSantis had also signed SB 245, Treatments for Sex Reassignment, in May. That legislation banned “mutilation” of minors through attempted gender-transition surgeries, but a federal judge temporarily blocked portions of the new law in June.
“In Florida, we follow the science and the law,” Weida said in a statement this week.
“Simply Healthcare failed to comply with Florida law, rules, and regulations by covering the costs for a double mastectomy of a minor performed in December 2022,” he said. “Therefore, the agency is imposing a sanction for the plan’s violation of Florida Rule 59G-1.010. We appreciate Simply’s recent action to replace their leadership team.”
“We are also issuing fines against four other Medicaid plans that used public dollars to support prescription drugs used for gender dysphoria,” he added. “These plans recklessly continued to cover these services with permanent, harmful effects, after the rule was adopted. These Health Plans will not stand in the way of our fight to protect the innocence of Florida’s kids.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately characterized the medical procedure Sunshine covered.