WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants all health insurance plans to cover “medically necessary gender-affirming care” for gender dysphoric individuals.
“Sex reassignment surgery” and “hormone therapy” would both be considered necessary procedures under proposed new regulations. The HHS published the rule on January 5 and the comment period ended January 27, a relatively short window for feedback. The time to comment is generally 30 to 60 days, though the Biden administration has previously ignored standard rulemaking procedure.
The new regulation attempts to justify the requirements by labeling the exclusion of those procedures as discriminatory.
“A health plan design … is presumed to be discriminatory if it limits coverage of an [essential health benefit] based on gender identity in treating gender dysphoria when clinical evidence demonstrates that such coverage is medically necessary to provide gender-affirming care,” one portion of the regulations say. “For example, excluding coverage of medically necessary hormone therapy for treatment of gender dysphoria where hormone therapy is otherwise a covered EHB is presumptively discriminatory.”
Scholars with the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPCC) submitted a lengthy document detailing the problems with the proposed rule.
“The rule as proposed is arbitrary and capricious, is without legal support, contradicts longstanding scientific understandings of the human person, attempts to evade court injunctions, promotes harm to patients (especially minors), tramples religious freedom, and places ideology ahead of sound medicine,” the comment letter said.
The rule, while claiming to rely on best practices and the prevailing medical wisdom, ignores basic scientific questions, the EPPC said.
“It is arbitrary and capricious for the proposed rule to avoid specifying precisely what sex in medicine and science means and how it relates to medical necessity with respect to gender dysphoria treatments,” the scholars, including Ryan T. Anderson and former HHS Office for Civil Rights director Roger Severino, wrote in their letter. “The concept of gender dysphoria is meaningless without sex, just as transgender transition as a proposed medical solution is meaningless. What would a person be transitioning to and from exactly?”
“If the agency cannot answer such a basic question with any semblance of scientific and medical rigor, it has no basis to mandate coverage of such ‘transition’ treatments and procedures in any context, and certainly not as an essential health benefit,” the signers said.
The HHS would ignore science and logic if it formalized its requirement for the coverage of “transition” treatments, the EPPC said.
“Sex as a status — male or female — is a recognition of the organization of a body designed for dimorphic sexual reproduction,” the center’s letter said. “More than simply being identified on the basis of such organization, sex is a coherent concept only on the basis of that organization.”
Ignoring sex has dire consequences, scholars warn
The EPPC comment letter provides one example of how medical professionals who let patients claim to be a sex at odds with their biology can be deadly.
“[A] person who was admitted to an emergency room with severe abdominal pain was tracked according to a preferred male gender identity,” the letter said. “Unbeknownst to the triage staff, the patient was actually a woman in late-stage labor. The result was the stillbirth of a very real human child who possibly could have been saved but for gender identity politics distorting the truth of the situation.”
Leftist groups commented in support of the new regulations.
“It is well-established that members of the LGBTQ community face discrimination when seeking health care, resulting in poorer health outcomes than their straight and cisgender peers,” abortion giant Planned Parenthood wrote in a supportive comment. The abortion vendor provides “gender affirming hormone therapy” to its clients and would financially benefit from further insurance coverage of the procedures.
“Insurers specifically have contributed to this discrimination by employing transgender-specific exclusions to deny coverage for medically necessary treatment, including but not limited to gender-affirming treatment,” Planned Parenthood said.
The comment period is closed, but feedback can be submitted. For tracking purposes, mention you are commenting on “CMS-9911-P.”
Contact information for respectful feedback
Leigha Basini, (301) 492-4380 (for feedback on gender dysphoric provisions)
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free Call Center: 1-877-696-6775